Book Review: Into The Water

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)

Excuse me?

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.

– Judith




Book Review: Child Taken by Darren Young

Child Taken is the brand new, debut thriller from Darren Young.

One summer’s day, a young Jessica Preston disappears from the beach where she was playing with her family. The police say she drowned, but her mother thinks otherwise. She thinks she was taken. 20 years later, another child goes missing, prompting a young journalist to uncover the mystery behind what really happened to Jessica. She finds someone with an explosive secret, which not only threatens to reveal the truth, but puts lives in danger.

After reading Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train last year, I’ve really grown to enjoy mystery and crime thrillers, and so it was a pleasure to read Child Taken, which follows a similar narrative style.

The chapters were a short length, which kept the pace moving, and helped easily switch between the two narrative perspectives of our female protagonists: Danni and Laura. This style heavily reminded me of The Girl On The Train, which tells the narrative through the eyes of Rachel, Anna, and Megan, and I liked this.

I particularly liked Laura, particularly because she works as a journalist, which is a position I’d like to be in myself one day, and the fact she uses her journalism to uncover a horrible secret reminds me of another Gillian Flynn novel, Sharp Objects, which is another favourite thriller of mine.

At various points in the book, there was definite, and well-crafted suspense – one Goodreads user said Child Taken ‘sucked me in and … spat me out’ – and I can definitely see its potential to become a book that people struggle to put down.

However, although some parts were genuinely thrilling, I felt other parts were slightly lacking – introductions of new characters were often followed by lots of background information which I found a bit unnecessary.

I really enjoyed Child Taken – by halfway through I was certainly “hooked” – and it’s an impressive debut novel. In places, it could do with a polish, but I think it has brilliant potential.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Child Taken will be available to buy as a paperback on Amazon UK from May 2017.

– Judith


[Guest Post] Film Review: T2 Trainspotting

The following blog post was written by Patrick, from The Blog from Another World.

I love Danny Boyle and I love Trainspotting. When T2 was announced, I was worried that the film would be a cash grab, a lazy retread. Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon had already disappointed me with Jason Bourne (2016), which was an ill-thought through bore. However, after watching Trainspotting again for my article with ReadandReview2016, the stakes were raised very high. Impossibly high?

No. Not at all. Danny Boyle is the finest British filmmaker in modern cinema. There is no doubt in my mind about this. T2 is fantastic. Possibly even better than the first.

Boyle performs camera moves, positions and set pieces which are truly thrilling. He and his director of photography Anthony Dodd Mantle work with light and shadow and perspective to create meaning.

He’s a director who inspires me and this might just be the biggest risk of his career. He pulls it off and shows a maturity and an evolution of film-making style which makes us understand just how much experience and persistence matters. In preparation for watching T2 I watched A Life Less Ordinary, the Boyle directed film which came after Trainspotting and before The Beach. The film is a flawed and underwhelming work despite a career best performance by Cameron Diaz.

My reason for watching A Life Less Ordinary was to remind myself of Boyle on a bad day (but even his low point is better than many director’s best).   Slumdog Millionaire and Steve Jobs are big favourites of mine but T2 takes his best work and betters it.  It’s funny, sad, euphoric, tragic and utterly brilliant.

The story of T2 follows Renton, Sick Boy (now Simon), Begbie and Spud as they deal with the modern world twenty years after the events of the first film.

This film is a wonderful look at ageing, our modern world and the responsibilities of adulthood. The characters feel deeper and emotionally richer although some plot strands don’t go anywhere and seem added in for nostalgia’s sake (the re-appearance of heroin is pointless).

The four leads are superb. Ewan McGregor is the best he’s been since the original film, Robert Carlyle has aged Begbie in the most perfect way and Ewan Bremner is the heart of the film. Only Jonny Lee Miller isn’t stretched, with Sick Boy always being a secondary character.

This film has a rollicking pace and heaps of style. It captures the spirit of the original whilst moving in an entirely new direction, away from drugs and toward some kind of recognition. For the first time, Renton is forced to face the consequences of his actions and it’s an explosive moment. I personally loved this scene (not a spoiler) which captures the hard edged but joyful tone of the original and is a perfect storm of music, action, comedy and character.

This film is the best thing I’ve seen all year. It would take a lot to top this, and I can’t wait!


Thank you for reading!

– Judith and Patrick