Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pub. Date: May 2nd, 2017
Pages: 400

Genres: Contemporary Fiction / Mystery / Suspense / Thriller


An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train.

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

What Did I Think About the Story?

Oh my, how I've been waiting for Paula Hawkins's second book to come out! I did a buddy read of Ms. Hawkins's first novel, The Girl on the Train, last year with some blogger friends and was blown away by how much I actually enjoyed the mystery/thriller, where all of the characters were genuinely screwed up but somehow so compelling that I couldn't stop turning the pages (you can read my full review HERE). Like with anything, the more the anticipation built up for this newest book to come out the more excited I got to get it in my hot little hands and devour it. As soon as I saw it as an add-on to my Book-of-the-Month subscription for May I snatched it up. I even saved it as my special treat for the long weekend I had over Memorial Day/my birthday weekend. Now, having finished the story, I think I might have sabotaged my own reading experience since it would have been nearly impossible to live up to the expectations I had built within my own head. Did I love every page of Into the Water and feverishly turn all the pages like I did with The Girl on the Train? Was it still an enjoyable reading experience? Definitely.

My biggest "issue" with Into the Water was the pacing. As the story unfolded it tended to drag me along instead of propelling me to keep reading. We learn early on about the two most recent deaths in the river, then slowly learn about the various other drownings that have occurred there over the years through our various narrators (and there are a number of them) and the sporadic excerpts from the book Nel (the single mother mentioned in the synopsis) was writing and which the people of the town she lived in didn't want to be published. With these alternating narrators, all of which clearly have their own agendas and aren't giving the reader the whole truth, it made it somewhat hard to keep track of how everyone interacted and fit together and to keep a grasp on the forward development of the main mystery of the story - did Nel Abbott kill herself, or did someone murder her and make it look like a suicide? And, if murder, who and why?

What I did enjoy about the story (and I'm sure many people might not agree with me) were the unreliable characters. They are all unlikable in varying degrees and none are innocent or exempt from the many mistakes that have been made, and buried, in this town. However, it's this unlikability and unpredictability that makes the story so intriguing and keeps the reader guessing as to what is really happening and what these narrators are leaving out for us to eventually discover. There is quite a bit of heartache and anger and confusion for these characters to work through and I, for one, love going along on their journeys as they work through these complicated emotions and grapple with the consequences of their often impulsive actions.

All in all I did enjoy Into the Water even though it did not, for me, come even close to being as good as The Girl on the Train. I would definitely recommend anyone new to Paula Hawkins start with The Girl on the Train and, for those that have already read and enjoyed that story, to temper their expectations of this newest book. I will definitely keep this in mind when her next book comes out and go into that reading with lowered expectations.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think this cover is absolutely perfect! The colors are vibrant, the hazy, distorted image makes you wonder who is lying beneath the surface, and the very image fits the story perfectly. I think even the fluid typography is perfect. I actually selected this cover for one of my weekly Cover Crush posts and I stand by that...this is a gorgeous and alluring cover!

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

I bought a copy of Into the Water for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book and it's author, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.


  1. I read this, too. And I have issues with it, too.

    INTO THE WATER is complex. Various mysteries are going on, all interrelated, resulting in a smooth storyline. That's good.

    But INTO THE WATER sure wasn't like THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. I criticized THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, but I also admitted that it is unputdownable at times. INTO THE WATER isn’t, ever.

    For me, this book became an exercise in memorization. There are so many characters, each with his or her own viewpoint and mysteries, that I spent most of the book trying to keep them all straight and remember who did and said what. Many times I had to page back to previous chapters to remind myself.

    INTO THE WATER is a good try. But, probably, readers who liked THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be disappointed in INTO THE WATER.