Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

"Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins
First published in 2017
386 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Short Of It:
This book was totally different from "The Girl on the Train" and had a few issues, but overall I enjoyed it.

The Long Of It:
With her sophomore effort Hawkins -- wisely, in my opinion -- didn't attempt to replicate the ubiquitous "The Girl on the Train." Instead, "Into the Water" is much more of a traditional mystery -- no unreliable narrator, no big twist at the end -- and that was perfectly fine with me because, with a few exceptions (like "The Girl on the Train" and "Gone Girl"), I've come to terms with the fact that psychological thrillers are usually a disappointment for me.

"Into the Water" is set in a small English town whose central feature is a river -- and that river, wrapped in tales of witches and curses -- has been the site of several suicides and drownings over the centuries. Two women died there in just the past few months, and it is with the potential -- mysterious -- suicide of the second woman that the story begins.

The book is told from several points of view, from the teenage daughter and estranged sister of the dead woman to one of the detectives on the case to the town psychic and more. Slowly, the truth unravels to reveal sinister motives, buried secrets and hidden connections.

There's not really any edge-of-your-seat pages-flying action; it's more of a slow burn of a book -- and as I said, I'd classify it as a mystery rather than a thriller. It reminded me a lot of the British TV show "Broadchurch," which revolves around a small English village and a dead boy found on the beach; in the course of the investigation, it turns out the residents of the quaint little seaside town are hiding all kinds of secrets. (It's a really good show, and it stars David Tenant!)

Something major that was missing for me, though, that "The Girl on the Train" did have, was connection to the characters. I was totally invested in Rachel and, oh my gosh did I tear through that book to find out what happens to her. I think here the story suffers from too many narrators and too little background on each. And the multiple-POVs made the story confusing and hard to get into at first -- I was at least 100 pages in before I really got hooked by the plot, though once I finally was I had a hard time putting the book down.

I had really been looking forward to "Into the Water," but then all the mediocre 3-star reviews started rolling in and I almost didn't pick it up after all. I'm glad I did, though -- it wasn't perfect, and it wasn't "The Girl on the Train," but it was a decent read. I went into it with fairly low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised.


  1. I have a copy of this and after reading your review, I'm more excited to read it. I never read Girl on the Train but did see the movie (and didn't care for it much). This has a few elements which might intrigue me more. Great review!

    1. Barb, the "Girl on the Train" movie was a disappointment. The book was so much better, though if you've seen the movie you would already know that the twist was coming if you tried to read the book. I'm interested to hear what you think of this one!

  2. Did you like Girl and The Train? I picked it up because it sounded really good. And I HATED it. Never finished it. Didn't even care about any of the characters. I've been not too sure about reading this one.

    1. I actually did love "The Girl on the Train," though this book is VERY different. I will say that if lack of character connection bothered you in her first book, it's worse here! There are too many characters involved to really get to know them or get invested.


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