by Mira Grant
Cover Artist: Julie Dillon
Review by Katie Carmien
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596068230
Date: 30 April 2017 List Price $40.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Doctor Jennifer Webb has invented a revolutionary type of virtual reality. Using a sophisticated cocktail of drugs, she puts patients under and runs them through their own personal horror movie, using false monsters to heal real scars. Reporter Esther Hoffman has dedicated her entire career to debunking pseudoscientific therapy methods, after so-called regression therapy destroyed her family. Which, according to Jennifer Webb, makes her the perfect person to do an exposť on the company. For Jennifer, it's a chance for the publicity that comes from converting a skeptic. For Esther, it's the chance to get the story of the century and take down a charlatan in the process. But some people are willing to do anything to get their hands on Jennifer's technology. Anything at all.
As always, Mira Grant delivers beautifully. This novella is a beautiful synthesis of horror movie and science fiction. The sequences in VR are tense and atmospheric, even when nothing overt is happening. Likewise, the real-world parts of the novella are by turns fascinating and even more horrifying than what's happening in the constructed horror movie. I particularly like the villain; she's almost a cypher, in that we have no idea who she is beyond the fact she's an expert who's been paid a lot of money to come after Jennifer's tech, but she's all the more terrifying for that.
Speaking of characters, the two protagonists are very engaging, even if not much about Jennifer is revealed. Esther gets most of the backstory--her father died in jail because of the phony testimony of a regression therapist--but that makes Jennifer no less interesting. Whether they're working together or not, they're a lot of fun to read about, especially when they play off of each other.
My only complaint is that I want more. Final Girls is very short--only a little over one hundred pages--and unfortunately that means that the plot has to move pretty quickly. So even though the bulk of the book is set inside Esther and Jennifer's VR session, the reader still doesn't get to spend a lot of time there, for example. All the good parts zip past so they can all fit in. Basically, I would have liked this to be at least a little bit longer.
Final Girls is the perfect book for fans of science fiction and horror alike--as long as they don't mind short works. Readers will definitely be left wanting more.