Warning: Into The Water contains depictions of teenage suicide and sexual abuse, so if you would find these topics upsetting to read about, this is not the book for you.
‘Fans of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train rejoice: her second novel Into the Water is even better’
Good Housekeeping (Book of the Month)
Into The Water is the second novel by Paula Hawkins, another thriller / mystery which follows Jules Abbott as she tries to work out how and why her sister Nel drowned. Did she jump, or was she pushed?
I found it incredibly difficult to form opinions on Into The Water without making direct comparisons to The Girl On The Train. You can read my book review of The Girl On The Train here.
When your debut novel sells over 1 million copies, spends 20 weeks as the number one hardback in the UK and is adapted into a film, I suppose the pressure to write another bestseller is on.
For example, there are lots of narrators – this book contains a lot more perspectives than The Girl On The Train. Yet I am tempted to say Hawkins may have bitten off more than she could chew here. Working out who characters were, and how they were all linked wasn’t straightforward. In some cases, characters felt underdeveloped and I couldn’t remember much about them at all.
‘What happened to the Paula Hawkins who structured “The Girl on the Train” so ingeniously?’
(Janet Maslin, The New York Times)
Into The Water was also a much quicker read than The Girl On The Train.
Arguably, this was a favourable quality – I finished it in a day and I was consistently keen to find out what happened. However, the pacing also made me acutely aware of how, in whizzing through the narrative at such speed, meant I may not have absorbed all of the character and plot details.
I guess people did really like Into The Water. It won the award for Best Mystery & Thriller in the Goodreads Choice Awards, and there are lots of positive reviews online. So, time for some positivity.
In terms of story telling, there was a good hook, and I think the setting was better developed than the characters. It was clear the town of Beckford was odd, with links to superstition about witches and a mysterious history of suicide, secrets and heartbreak.
Hawkin’s writing is also interesting in that every perspective offered is always skewed in some way – always unreliable.
In a mystery novel, this is great at shrouding the facts and allowing the reader to work things out themselves. However, the extent of unreliable narration used in this novel made it difficult to understand exactly what happened and why it happened – even by the end. Whilst this may have been the intended effect, I wasn’t a fan.
I did enjoy the story of Into The Water. Honestly. Unfortunately, I just think Hawkins’ writing techniques weren’t as effective this time around. Sorry.
Into The Water will be released in paperback on the 17th of May 2018.