I’ll start by admitting that I’ve never read Girl on the Train. I completely missed the…. hype train… for that book. (Haha?) But, I found a good deal on Paula Hawkins’ newest novel so I thought I would give it a try.
Lazy summer days are spent along a river in a sleepy little town, but the river has a very mysterious past. Women– troublesome women according to some– often find themselves at the bottom of the river. Some are said to have killed themselves while others were forced beneath the dark waters. Nel Abbot is the river’s most recent victim. While evidence seems to point to Nel’s death being a suicide, her family is unconvinced.
I have been in the mood for a good thriller for a while now, but this book is a bit of a disappointment. To me a good thriller needs to be hard to put down, keep me guessing, and I like a little bit of a scare. Into the Water ticks none of those boxes to my satisfaction. None of the characters are likable. That in itself is perfectly fine. Good characters are imperfect, but somehow this made almost every character an equal suspect. Too many suspects made it a toss up and for some reason I didn’t care about who was the bad guy. Some motivations for characters’ actions also do not seem realistic. There are some characters who feel like they were not utilized enough in the plot (or were they there only as red herrings?). There are also some references to the occult which feel out of place. And how is such a small town filled with so many assholes with a myriad of motivations to murder each other?
In short, there are too many characters all vying for the spotlight– and the blame. There are just too many points of view too. Each chapter is named after whichever character’s perspective is used (both 1st and 3rd person is used in the novel) and with over half of a dozen different perspectives it can get confusing. Several times I started a new chapter thinking “who is this person?” Only a few characters’ voices are distinct enough to differentiate between without knowing them by name.
The book isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. It does not feel polished and the plot does not feel tight. I’m pretty sure you could take out a couple characters’ chapters and the book would be no worse for it. Add to all of this that the plot twists are disappointing and predictable and you have a very average thriller.