Published by Penguin Publishing Group on 2017
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense
Buy on Amazon
The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train returns with Into the Water, her addictive new novel of psychological suspense. A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged. Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from--a place to which she vowed she'd never return. With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present. Beware a calm surface--you never know what lies beneath.
I’m going straight down the middle with a 3-star rating but, in truth, my thoughts are all over with this book. I think the only way I can make sense of it is to break it down into points.
1) This book is very different from The Girl on the Train.
That ad that keeps flashing up saying “If you liked The Girl on the Train, you’ll love Into the Water” is bullshit. Into the Water doesn’t focus in-depth on any character, but rather moves between the perspectives of many members of a British town. While both books contain themes of memory and the limitations on its reliability, the mysteries feel very different.
2) The cast of characters is big. Arguably, too big.
I’m torn as to whether I think this is a negative or not. I know many readers will be turned off by the many, many points of view circulating in this book. There is Lena, daughter of the deceased Nel, and Nel’s sister Jules; there’s both of the detectives – Sean Townsend and Erin Morgan – as well as Sean’s wife, Helen, and his father, Patrick. There’s the teacher from Lena’s school – Mark Henderson – and the local “psychic”, Nickie Sage. There’s Louise Whittaker, whose daughter died, and also her son, Josh. I may have even forgotten some.
On the one hand, this allows for a distant style of narration that never makes it easy to warm to any of the characters. Seeing as – on top of this – most of the characters were pretty despicable, I didn’t spend much of my reading time liking anyone. However, in a weird way I didn’t hate it. The moving between so many characters, each with their own stories and secrets, reminded me of the TV show Broadchurch, which I actually really enjoyed. I like all the interlocking stories and histories going on within this town and how every character has some reason to seem guilty.
3) It’s not as suspenseful as The Girl on the Train.
Or, at least, it wasn’t for me. It’s more on the domestic side of “domestic thriller”. I felt less tension and excitement pulling me through. It was more of an examination of various ties between people in a small town, and how everyone was in some way linked to the woman found dead.
4) Let me emphasize once more– everyone is unlikable.
Some people commented on my review of The Girl on the Train saying how they just hated everyone in the book. If you felt that way, I highly recommend skipping this one because the characters are even worse. I personally quite like to read about shitty people, and I found Rachel from TGotT to be an interesting and sympathetic character despite everything, so it was not a huge issue for me. But, seriously, there are some truly fucked up, awful people in this book.
5) The ending was a little anticlimactic.
I think this whole book was quieter, on the whole, than it’s predecessor. The people sucked, it’s true, and yet the stories were less dramatic; the climax less punchy. I never felt like I was hit with a reveal; there was no “oh my god” moment, or even much of an emotional change. The book drew gently to a close.
All this being said, I can’t deny that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wouldn’t rush to call this a “pageturner” and yet my interest in this town’s many overlapping secrets kept me turning the pages anyway. I know that Hawkins’s future books will be on my list.