Well Isn’t That Clever: The Last Final Girl

In an effort to branch my writing out a little, I’m going to give book reviews a shot. I’ll try to focus on what I consider to be clever aspects of books I’ve enjoyed since that’s pretty much the reason anybody looks at things I’ve written. So without further padding out the preamble to feel like I’m being productive, I present:

Well, Isn’t That Clever

What am I rhetorically questioning this week? The Last Final Girl, by Stephen Graham Jones.
lastfinalgirl

My own understanding of the concept of “genre savviness” can probably be traced back to watching slasher movies in my teens. It helped that all the genre elements one could be savvy about were thrown into people’s faces with self-aware slashers like Scream shortly after I took an interest in them, but either way, the expectations an audience should have of a slasher film are fairly well-known. Which means you really need to take a really unique approach to the genre if you want to be savvy about it nowadays.

The Last Final Girl manages to be savvy about it nowadays.

Simply calling out expectations isn’t enough; Jones has taken the self-awareness arms race to Geneva Convention-violating levels here.

“Brittney runs her lipstick under the tap but finally just gives up, drops it in the sink, all that red swirling the drain, which we get but are tired of already.”

How do you get more self-aware than a movie following a group of characters who’ve seen too many horror movies? A book from the POV of an audience who’s seen too many horror movies watching a movie (which is the book’s narrative) where characters have seen too many horror movies. But the book doesn’t get bogged down with post-ironic in-joke references — it moves along at a swift enough pace that you never even notice all the characters are winking at you.

And, like all exceptional satires, the book can stand firmly as a horror novel even in the rare case where none of the jokes land. Jones has (as you’d hope) seen too many horror movies, knows what a jaded horror fan wants to see and delivers creative carnage which scratches that rabid itch while, through subtle insights from the narration, questioning what’s really wrong with you that you still want to see that so badly.

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