“THE WOOD is dark and the wood is deep and the trees claw at the sky with branches like bones, ripping holes in the canopy of clouds, revealing glimpses of a distant, rotting moon the color of dead flesh.”
Final Girls is a fascinating novella by Mira Grant, that I sped through like a child given a bag full of candy and a limited amount of time to consume it. It’s a tricksy little sci-fi yarn, about a doctor who has created a new virtual reality technology that works as a therapy treatment. These patients climb into pods and experience scary movie scenarios that they believe are real life. These scenarios (think scarecrow monster, vampires, zombies, etc) help those within them confront fears or develop bonds with loved ones.
Sounds amazing right? I can think of a few friends who would LOVE to jump into one of those horror movie moments even just for fun. But this treatment may not be all that it seems, or at least that’s what journalist Esther wants to find out. I loved our two main characters. Esther has some major childhood trauma that makes her instantly despise this kind of “science” and our good doctor Jennifer believes that if she can just get Esther to climb into a pod and experience this whole thing for herself, she’ll be on board.
And it’s when Esther agrees, climbs into the pod and starts this journey, that the story begins to come into sharp relief. Because Jennifer joins her in the scenario in her own pod. And then someone sinister shows up to tamper with the technology while these two women are trapped inside.
The tension is fantastic throughout the tale, and the journey of the characters as they fall deeper and deeper into the scenario and begin to trust and love each other is heartbreaking. And all the while, this malevolent force is working to hurt them from the outside in.
This is the kind of story where I could see it being a killer movie. It’s compact and sleek, no wasted words here. But honestly I wish it were longer. I want to know more about these characters and how they’ve gotten to this place. I want to see more people experience this VR therapy and know more about the other people that helped make it possible. Like most short stories and novellas, I just want more. I’m a want more type of person. I want sequels and series and backstory- which is probably why I love fanfiction. It gives me the more I crave.
Either way, this little nugget is a delight and I don’t regret taking this journey with Esther and Jennifer. Jump into your VR pod and join us. It’s a hell of a ride.