Into the Water is the second book from best-selling author Paula Hawkins, whose first novel The Girl on the Train will no doubt be familiar to you. Into the Water starts with the death of Nel Abbott. They say she jumped into the drowning pool, but her sister knows better. Nel was absolutely obsessed with the drowning pool and the women who had died there before. Suspected witches, troublesome women, teenage school girls and more. She was writing a book about all the goings on at the pool from today to way back when and she’d made many enemies in her small town as a result. So what really happened to Nel?
I must begin by stating that comparisons to The Girl on the Train are largely unhelpful since I would consider these two books to be in two distinct genres. Whilst The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller filled with suspense, Into the Water is a slow-burning mystery. What is similar is that both are written from multiple perspectives and indeed this is one of Into the Water’s greatest triumphs. At least, it is, once you get into it.
At first, the numerous perspectives can be hard to keep up with, which is why I abandoned the audiobook version of Into the Water quite early on. I couldn’t distinguish between any of the voices and they jumped between them every 2 minutes! However, the paperback edition contains a helpful character list in the front which you will need to refer back to for the first few chapters but it soon becomes clear who’s who.
Again, Hawkins proves herself to be a master of the novel written from multiple perspectives. You think you know a character and then another will suddenly reveal a piece of information that changes your perspective on everything. I hated most characters from the get go, thinking they were all spiteful, horrible creatures. However, as time went on, I started to see how all the characters slotted together and who had more going on underneath the surface than I first thought. I didn’t start to like any of the characters but I did begin to understand them. Your first impressions of most characters will be turned upside down by the time you turn the last page of this book.
This book is full of surprises and there are so many plot twists along the way; however, they are not really the sort that make you gasp or sit straighter in your chair. Into the Water is a slow burner and you continue throughout the book you feel like you yourself are meandering through a river with some unexpected turns along the way. Some say the ending is anti-climatic and, to some extent, I agree, but much like the rest of the novel, I feel like we are simply being slowly led the way the answer and when it was finally revealed, I felt a sense of relief more than anything else. It’s not a shock ending, but a light-bulb moment that makes you go “oh”.
If you like mystery novels then you’ll love Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. It’s a twist on the classic “whodunnit” novel with a death occurring at the very beginning of the story and then a number of characters try to unravel the mystery. If you are a big fan of The Girl of the Train then I’d say proceed with caution – don’t get your hopes up thinking this is going to be a similar novel, because I don’t really think they’re all that similar. They are both excellent reads, but they each have their own merits and should be distinguished.
Overall rating: 4 stars
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