Hi, I recently read a book I was expecting to dislike and ended up actually enjoying it.
The book? Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.
Here’s the thing. I didn’t really care for The Girl On the Train, Hawkins’s first novel. I won’t spoil The Girl On the Train for you if you haven’t read it yet and plan to, but let me just say that the main character drove me fucking nuts and the only reason I gave it a 3 star rating on Goodreads was because I liked the ending. So, I was hesitant to read Into the Water.
So why did I pick up Into the Water? Well, I liked the synopsis of it. But also because my friend Freesia told me not to waste my time with it, so of course I had to see what all the fuss was about.
Synopsis: Into the Water is a mystery set in a small English village. Nel Abbott, a photographer in the village, is found dead in a body of water known as The Drowning Pool, seemingly of suicide. Nel leaves behind her teenage daughter Lena, as well as her estranged younger sister Jules (not Julia). Nel’s body is the second body to be pulled from The Drowning Pool in the same year. As Jules tries to piece together a reason why her supposedly happy sister would jump to her death, truths come to light that link the two tragedies, raising the question: is there a murderer on the loose, and if so, who’s next?
Review: Ok, here’s what I liked about the book—
1) multiple narrators. I know a lot of people who read this book did NOT like this narrative style, but I LOVE stories told from varying perspectives. One reason I like multiple narrators is that for one, there’s usually shorter chapters. This makes the book faster to read, IMO. Also, I like reading different POVs because you get different details of the story that you might not when it’s told from one perspective. Multiple narrators allow you to devour the book in small morsels, as opposed to one giant bite (again, IMO).
2) the mystery. I was kept guessing up until the very end, either because the story was well told or I am just very gullible. Either way, I found the mystery intriguing and was trying to solve it along with the other characters.
3) the writing. I just think Hawkins’s writing has significantly improved with this novel. Is it the best writing I’ve ever read? No, but it was good enough for me.
Ok, here’s what I didn’t like.
1) the characters. I just didn’t really connect with them. And the drawback of having multiple narrators is that there’s not enough time to connect with any character. None of the characters were terrible or annoying, but I’m a character reader so if I’m reading a novel I want to at least connect to or care about (or at least be interested in) one of the characters.
2) the fact that Hawkins’s characters tend to fall flat for me. Like come on boo, you have 7 (that’s a guesstimate) people talking, you can’t make one of them interesting?
3) The tendency to insert trending topics/media into the story just because there’s a teenager in the story. These didn’t play a huge part at all, but when they’re mentioned they felt inorganic to me. This is also just an annoyance I have with authors in general.
Overall, I enjoyed this book so much more than The Girl On the Train, and would definitely pick up Hawkins’s next work.
Rating: 4 stars