The Last Girls Standing

Putnam. Aug. 2023. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593532072.
Gr 9 Up–Sloan, 18, is one of only two survivors of a gruesome slaughter that took place during the summer camp where she worked as a camp counselor. With very few memories of what occurred—masked men wielding machetes, snippets of kissing her girlfriend while covered in blood—Sloan struggles to come to terms with her trauma. She is plagued by nightmares and has formed a codependent relationship with her girlfriend, Cherry, whom she had only known for a few days before the massacre. They are virtually inseparable; Sloan relies heavily on Cherry to fill in the blanks of what really happened that night. When the news reveals information about the cult that massacred their friends, Sloan begins to suspect that her girlfriend may have been more than just a victim—she may have even been a part of it. Can she trust what Cherry says happened? This psychological thriller will interest readers who appreciate a little bit of gore. The characters are complex and realistic. Main characters read as white, with several supporting characters cued as Black, Korean, and Latinx. Throughout the book, readers see the arc of how Sloan’s relationships with family and friends change after the trauma, as well as her growth as she learns to live with her PTSD and anxiety.
VERDICT A recommended purchase where thrillers are popular; hand this to fans of Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and Stephen King’s IT.

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