Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.
I should warn you right now if you’re a fan or love this book, I really did not like this book. It’s not quite hatred, but I didn’t even finish it. I got 200ish pages in, was so sick of it that I skipped to the end to see the twist, rolled my eyes and shoved it back on the shelf. So, keep that in mind.
So after the massive success of The Girl On The Train (which I thought was fine, but wasn’t really into) Paula Hawkins wrote another one. I decided to give it a read.
Into the Water takes place in a small, charming English village where there is a river that runs through it. A part of it’s called the drowning pool and like the names says, women (weirdly, just women) have been drowning there. There’s even a several hundred year old story about a teenage girl who drowned there. A teenager drowns a few months before the story and a single mom (named Danielle, or Nel) at the beginning of the story. A single mom who just happened to be investigating the drownings.
Nel’s estranged sister Jules comes back to town to look after Nel’s teenage daughter, Lena (who also happened to be friends with Katie, the girl who drowned a few months ago). Jules and Lena do not get along and both believe that Nel would of never jumped. The freaking book jacket talks about them, saying the two of them don’t get along, but both want to figure out what happened.
Now, at this point, I found this a bit interesting. I love dysfunctional families and an aunt and a snooty teenager who hate each other trying to solve a mystery sounds great. Except there’s one problem.
The book isn’t about that! There’s not a lot about these two, they seem to avoid each other, snarl a bit at one another and then retreat away.
This book involves so many other characters and that’s the problem. Let me see if I can remember all of them.
Besides Nel, Jules and Lena, there’s Sean, the policemen working on the case and Erin the detective. Also, Sean’s wife Helen and his dad, Patrick, who lives with them. Also Lena had a friend named Katie who died a few months earlier, she has a younger brother named Josh, their mom Lousia and her husband, who I don’t remember his name. There’s also a psychics named Nikki who as far as I know, is not related to any of them. I have no idea why she’s in the story.
All of these characters has POV chapters. And while I just laid out who everyone is, the author never does that, or really introduced them. They’re just thrown in our face with little explanation, very fast and we’re left trying to figure out who these people are and how they’re related.
It’s very confusing and jarring to jump from character to character, especially when it hardly seems like these people matter. I didn’t care about the father of the policemen working this case and his dead wife, or random flashback chapters about Nel’s boyfriend when she was 16. I wanted to know more about the teenage girl left behind and solving the mystery of how Nel drowned.
Worse is, none of these characters are memorable or even likable. I had to force myself through 200 pages and not one of them stuck out to me. It’s one thing to be horribly confused, it’s another when you just don’t care. There was nothing interesting or unique about these people. And that’s bad.
Another problem this book has is it’s written in all three tenses. First, second and third. More characters are in third person, a few are in first and Jules for some reason, is in second person, narrating to her dead sister.
Pick one and stick to it. I’ve read a few books where two is used and I didn’t care for it. But three is way too over the top.
Another random thing I’d just like to point out that when I was growing up I lived in a small town of less then 20,000 people and we had a river that was popular to dive into, but after two kids drowned there during my HS years, the police did all they could to stop kids from going down there. But of course, none of that happens here. Kids go down to the drowning pool and play in the river all the time. I found that annoying. Why aren’t they trying harder to stop these drownings?
Overall, this book was a mess. And looking at Amazon and Goodreads reviews, it was clear I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I guess after the success of her first book, she had to try harder and cram as much into it as possible?
To be honest, unless she publishes something else that gets rave reviews, I’m not buying another one of her books.
The only good thing I can say is the writing wasn’t too bad? She’s an English author and has a very different writing style and slang then I’m used to, but it wasn’t bad. I felt like she knew how to write, but didn’t have good ideas or characters.
3/10, do not recommend.
Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?