Paula Hawkins has released her second book! I’ve been anticipating this for awhile now because I did enjoy her hugely successful debut The Girl on the Train despite the fact the genre was weighing a bit on me at the time. But I was a bit concerned when I read the early reviews of this one, Into the Water, because many people found it confusing due to the HUGE amount of perspectives it’s told from-over 10 different characters weigh in throughout the novel. So unfortunately I started reading it a bit on guard, readying myself to be disappointed, or at the very least, lost.
Into the Water takes place in a small, eerie little town which is home to a creepy river, a section of it nicknamed “the drowning pool”. Many women have died mysteriously there, but they have been deemed ‘suicides’ by law enforcement both past and present. We land here during present day, where the body of a local artist, Nel has been found in the river, just months after another suicide of a young teenage girl named Katie. Even more strange is that Nel’s daughter Lena was best friends with Katie, and Nel’s estranged sister Jules is now trying to figure out Lena’s connection with the recent deaths. Are you still with me? Whew, that’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? But knowing that people found it confusing forced me to slow down as I read it, so I think I was so hyper focused on ‘keeping things straight’ that I found the plot and characters easy to follow, almost from page one.
My blogging bud Laila very deftly pointed out in her review that this book has a wonderful gothic feel to it, which I couldn’t agree with more, and I think that’s why I found this story so appealing. The whole atmosphere of the town is so perfectly rendered; everyone has secrets, even the young kids, and the pacing of the gradual reveal of these secrets is masterful; Hawkins is a pro at building up just the right amount of suspense.
Sex seems to be a theme that runs through both The Girl on the Train and Into the Water, which is probably another reason why Hawkins’ books are so popular (ammiright?). One line in particular seemed to be the ‘key’ to many of the secrets the characters held: “…where there is sex, there is motive.”(p. 335). Of course this comes towards the end of the novel so it doesn’t give anything away, but it was a turning point for me as a reader, because I began to see the characters’ actions through a different lens.
I find people tend to be a bit harder on authors who have hit the big time, so I think some of the criticism around this book is just jealous grumbling to be perfectly honest. All in all, I really enjoyed Hawkins’ sophomore effort, it’s a good read, and I was engaged almost 100% of the time. It’s not without its flaws, but what book is? I’ll be looking forward to her third for sure.
Tall Poppy Syndrome so to speak?
I was so bored with this book! And I saw the ending coming a mile away! I try really hard to temper my expectations for follow-ups to massive books because I want to take each book on it’s own merits. But Into the Water didn’t do it for me on almost every level. A shame because I think there was a lot of potential.
ok I’m embarrassed to admit this, but what is tall poppy syndrome?
WHAT. You live in Canada and you’ve never heard of it??? It’s this thing that’s really common in Canada, the UK, Ireland where we kind of tear down or disparage those who have “made it”. Like we want to keep them humble or something…
nope definitely never heard of it. But, thank you for enlightening me!
Interesting how we see the same book differently 🙂 I haven’t read Girl on the Train though so I can’t really say for sure or compare the two. I’ll give it a try though (I tend to give authors a second chance…sometimes..) 😀
Hello Fellow Canadian btw. I’m from BC but live in Portland now 😉
kewl! I’ve always wanted to visit Portland, and just because of the show 🙂
I tried reading this book last week, and already found it difficult to read – as you say, and what others say, with the extensive number of POVs – but I don’t want to give up on it so quickly. I might go back one day, but that might not be for a while. One thing is for sure: I won’t have huge expectations.
ah yes, good to revisit on a cloudy day when you can focus!
Smokey’s looking fabulously scary! What a star! The book sounds pretty good too…
wait until you see smokey on video! I’m going to be posting my first video review soon 🙂
Loved your review—especially the mention of the book having a gothic feel to it. I couldn’t agree more that I can’t wait for Paula Hawkins’ next book! xx
I shouldn’t take the credit for the gothic comment though, that was all my blogger buddy!
I really enjoy your blog and all the effort, thoughtful writing and humor you putting into your book reviews and posts. I nominated you for The Mystery Blogger Award, participation is optional and here is the link to my post nominating you:
Aw thanks lady! Greatly appreciated, that means so much to me that you follow and comment on my posts 🙂
Really interesting to read an independent review of this book. My book club were talking about it recently – it didn’t make the short list – mixed views on Girl on a Train. Might give it a go one day anyway
yah it never hurts right? Sometimes I just read a book because everyone else is 🙂
I sometimes resist a book (or a film) because everyone else is talking about it. Though not always! Oh my, just read The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison – what a fab read!
Oh good to know!
I haven’t read either of Paula Hawkins’ works. Your review doesn’t put me off at all, btw.
Oh glad to hear it! That i didn’t put you off that is lol
I’m just glad that she didn’t name her book “The Girl (who is actually in her 30s) Who Fell Into the Water,” or something like that. Why must women agree to titles that trivialize women? I know they often don’t chose the title because they’re forced into something the publisher likes more, but still…
Hahahah this is a good point, I never thought about that
When I read The Woman in Cabin Ten by Ruth Ware for book club, I kept accidentally SAYING The Girl in Cabin Ten! I made myself so mad! That’s how ubiquitous “The Girl…” titles are. Grr.
But that’s a perfect example “the woman in cabin 10” talk about a lame title!
Loved your review! I totally agree with your analysis. I actually didn’t really like Girl on the Train so I was really surprised by how much I loved this one. Perhaps having lower expectations helped… I’m just surprised at how many reviews have been super critical of it.
Yah me too! Low expectations is basically how I get through life haha
I love Paula Hawkins. Also I love your cat. WOO <3
Haha thank you! WOOT