Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

Book Review: The Last Final Girl, by Stephen Graham Jones

Genre-savvy teens who know what kind of movie they're in try to survive a slasher.

The Last Final Girl

Lazy Fascist Press, 2012, 160 pages

Life in a slasher film is easy. You just have to know when to die.

Aerial View: A suburban town in Texas. Everyone's got an automatic garage door opener. All the kids jump off a perilous cliff into a shallow river as a rite of passage. The sheriff is a local celebrity. You know this town. You're from this town.

Zoom In: Homecoming princess, Lindsay. She's just barely escaped death at the hands of a brutal, sadistic murderer in a Michael Jackson mask. Up on the cliff, she was rescued by a horse and bravely defeated the killer, alone, bra-less. Her story is already a legend. She's this town's heroic final girl, their virgin angel.

Monster Vision: Halloween masks floating down that same river the kids jump into. But just as one slaughter is not enough for Billie Jean, our masked killer, one victory is not enough for Lindsay. Her high school is full of final girls, and she's not the only one who knows the rules of the game.

When Lindsay chooses a host of virgins, misfits, and former final girls to replace the slaughtered members of her original homecoming court, it's not just a fight for survival—it's a fight to become The Last Final Girl.

This book is meant to be a tribute, an homage, and a satire. It's not quite as clever as the movie it's frequently compared to, Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods, but it is clever and has some moments of genuine hilarity as it checks off all the tropes with a self-aware wink.


"Lindsay's right," Izzy says, collecting the leftovers. "Billie Jean is coming back for her. With a little help from his friends."

"So . . . so is this a horror movie now, or a teen comedy?" Brittney says.

"It's an afterschool special," Izzy says, Hoddering her head over to study Billie Jean. "Know what the take-home message is? Don't fuck with Izzy Stratford."

Beautiful, perfect "Final Girl" Lindsay survived a killer named "Billie Jean," with the help of her horse, Wildfire, and a well-timed bra removal. (Since she's the virginal protagonist, no tit was ever seen.) Now, however, she knows that Billie Jean is coming back. So she's going to gather a homecoming court of other Final Girls who survived their own masked psycho-killers, and make sure she's the last Final Girl standing.

Michael Myers

The Last Final Girl is fun for those who watched every R-rated bloodbath of the 80s and 90s. I don't think Stephen Graham Jones missed a single name-drop; certainly he dropped more names than I was familiar with, and I watched a lot of slasher films. The self-referential humor is thick, and Jones doesn't miss a single trope or genre cliche either.

"Unless it does turn out to be you, of course," Izzy adds. "Then I’ll spit on your grave myself. Take you to the last house on the left just before dawn."


That said, the writing style will definitely not be to everyone's taste. It's written in present tense screenplay format, complete with camera directions:

→ and now Billie Jean's clambering easily over the rail after Izzy and Ben, Izzy falling backwards and up, her POV looking ahead, where they're going: to the top rail.
A dead end. A fast drop. Just like the cliff.
"Stupid girls run upstairs, stupid girls run upstairs," she's saying to herself, turning to pull Ben with her up the aluminum steps, Billie Jean just feet behind them,

→ Crystal down on the track, Billie Jean in the crosshairs of Dante's rifle, about to have his insides opened up.
"Now, you fucker," Crystal says, and pulls the trigger.
On nothing.
She doesn't understand this gun.

It really does convey the sense of being in a movie, watching from seats sticky with artificial butter through the alternating POV of a stalking serial killer and spunky teenagers, but it also gets annoying after a while. There were some good jokes, but this wasn't quite genius. Definitely a fun read for any horror fan, a celebration of all those R-rated blood-and-guts-and-titty-fests of a misspent youth staying up late for the gore-on-cable.


Verdict: A clever, funny, genre-savvy bloodbath written in an annoying screenplay format. The characters are quirky and expendable, the story is a rollercoaster, the plot is ridiculous but intentionally so. 6/10.

My complete list of book reviews.
Tags: books, horror, reviews

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