Book Reviews,  books

Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train was a publishing phenomenon, a stunningly intriguing thriller which placed the reader in the perspective of three major characters in the novel. Her second book Into the Water is a similar type of read, more complex than its predecessor but still as dark. However, it stands as a thriller on its own.

The plot surrounds Nel Abbot, who was found dead in the river, just a few short months after the death of her daughter’s best friend Katie in similar circumstances. Nel lived by the dark and forbidding body of water, known as ‘The Drowning Pool’ and was obsessed with stories of difficult women who had lost their lives there. The tragedy brings Nel’s sister Jules back to the place she swore she’d never return to and into the midst of the mystery.

Like The Girl on the Train, Into the Water links the tales of a group of female characters together, who have all been wronged in different ways. “Beckford is not a suicide spot”, Nel writes in her notes for her manuscript. “Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women”. All the women who lose their lives at the drowning pool could be seen as troublesome as the story unfolds.

One small thing I noticed is that there are no redeemable male characters in the book, which makes the story feel problematic. Admittedly, it’s hard to like any of the characters in the novel, irrespective of gender. Even the central character, Jules, is weak, having held a grudge against her sister for years, due to something Nel may not actually have been responsible for.
The book is highly readable, with choppy short chapters, told from each character’s perspective. There are ten different narrative viewpoints, which can be a bit tricky to follow at times, however after a while, I found that I managed to get into the flow of the story. I figured out about three-quarters of the way through whodunnit, however the story is gripping enough to keep you glued until the end.

Into the Water is an assured follow-up, however, it is not as mesmerising as her previous novel. It is still highly recommended and is an engaging read.

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