Do you have a relationship that you want to mend? Can’t be in the same room with your sister? On the verge of filing divorce papers? Not speaking to your mother? Most importantly, has traditional therapy failed you, time and again? Dr. Jennifer Webb of the Webb Virtual Therapy Institute has the cure for what ails you! Allow Dr. Webb and her highly trained staff the opportunity to repair your most broken relationships! You will not be disappointed! Using cutting-edge technology and a proprietary pharmaceutical formula, Dr. Webb’s innovative therapy program will guide you and your loved ones through fictional horrors that are specifically designed to heal even the most turbulent of relationships!
…or so an ad for the Webb Virtual Therapy Institute might read, were such a thing to exist. In Mira Grant’s forthcoming novella, Final Girls, such an institute is a reality. But what is it, exactly? Imagine a full-immersion virtual reality experience. You cannot remember that you have entered VR. Everything looks, smells, feels, even tastes real. The catch? You are about to be frightened nearly to death for the sake of a broken relationship that you wish to repair. You and this other individual will go through a virtual horror movie together, with the idea that being so completely frightened together will lead you to bond in a way that was never possible before. This is an incredibly intriguing scenario.
Of course something goes wrong.
Final Girls (2017)
Written by: Mira Grant
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Why I Chose It: Grant’s one of my favorite writers. Upon learning that Final Girls was included in Humble Bundle’s recent Fantastic Fiction…well, I’ve never purchased anything faster in my entire life.
What if you could fix the worst parts of yourself by confronting your worst fears?
Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented proprietary virtual reality technology that purports to heal psychological wounds by running clients through scenarios straight out of horror movies and nightmares. In a carefully controlled environment, with a medical cocktail running through their veins, sisters might develop a bond they’ve been missing their whole lives — while running from the bogeyman through a simulated forest. But…can real change come so easily?
Esther Hoffman doubts it. Esther has spent her entire journalism career debunking pseudoscience, after phony regression therapy ruined her father’s life. She’s determined to unearth the truth about Dr. Webb’s budding company. Dr. Webb’s willing to let her, of course, for reasons of her own. What better advertisement could she get than that of a convinced skeptic? But Esther’s not the only one curious about how this technology works. Enter real-world threats just as frightening as those created in the lab. Dr. Webb and Esther are at odds, but they may also be each other’s only hope of survival.
With her new novella Final Girls, bestselling, award-winning author Mira Grant has conjured a heartstopping, gut-wrenching story filled with as many twists as it is versions of reality. Grant offers a chilling exploration of how surviving horrors might define us all.
There will be no spoilers.
Overall, this novella doesn’t disappoint at all. The science is intriguing and (as with most of Grant’s work) on point. The characters are fully fleshed out in just the short period of time that we are given with them. Within the constraints of the novella format, in a lesser writer’s hands, characters often end up flat and poorly realized. That is most definitely not the case here. Grant successfully presents not only our heroines, but believable, frightening villains. The format of the novella switches between what is happening in the “real” world versus what’s going on within the simulation that our heroines, Esther and Jennifer, are facing together. Surprisingly, there is a fair amount of blood and violence present in both settings.
I have to say that the simulation that Esther and Jennifer fight their way through was frightening even before the horror movie elements kick in. I’m avoiding spoilers, but I will warn potential readers that bullying comes into play and is described in painful, brutal detail. Grant once again shows readers that humans are more monstrous than vampires, werewolves or zombies could ever attempt to be.
In conclusion: In only 112 pages, Mira Grant impresses and terrifies in a wonderfully frightening way. If you haven’t read any of Grant’s work before, this is a fantastic opportunity to have a taste without the commitment of a longer novel. Final Girls is excellent and I am certain that I will read it again.