The story: The drowning pool in Beckford has claimed many lives over the centuries. Originally the chosen place to drown witches, it’s now a notorious suicide spot. Most recently, Nel Abbott either jumped, fell or was pushed to her death, depending on who you believe. Nel’s daughter Lena’s best friend, Katie, walked into the pool with pockets full of rocks months earlier. And 30 years before that, Lauren Townsend threw herself from the cliff. It soon becomes clear that all of these deaths are connected in more ways than one, and that the people in Beckford are hiding many secrets that they don’t want brought to light.
My thoughts: There are a large number of narrators in this book (around 11 in total) which I initially found confusing. After a while though, I’d managed to get everyone straight in my head and didn’t find this to be too much of a problem in terms of following the story.
As each section is written in the first person, we spend a lot of time in people’s heads hearing their inner monologues. Each of these narrators is also biased to their own point of view and influenced by their own experiences and beliefs. Many of the things they think are true are distorted by false memories, heightened emotions or a misinterpretation of the facts. This creates an atmosphere where we as readers are never quite sure of the facts. Nothing we find out is solid, and truths seem to fall away like an eroding river bed as things are slowly revealed.
While in general I quite liked the descriptive writing style, having so many narrators did mean that we often heard the same events from several points of view, with a new perspective to throw things into a different light. This got a bit repetitive at times. In my opinion losing a few of these characters – Nickie, the psychic, or Josh, Katie’s younger brother, for example – wouldn’t have taken anything away from the overall plot, and we could have easily kept up to date on their stories through their interactions with others.
The character I cared the most about was Lena. She makes some questionable decisions and often lies, but she’s fifteen and grieving. She’s allowed to make mistakes and her motivations are understandable. She’s struggling under the weight of a huge secret, and she doesn’t know how to fix the mistakes that have been made in the past. I really felt for her and wanted her life to take a turn for the better.
The pace of Into the Water is definitely slower than Paula Hawkin’s first novel, The Girl on the Train, and as a result the twists and reveals felt like they had less impact, and I also had a good idea of what the final twist might be. I also wasn’t keen on a particular subplot that delves into the supernatural – it wasn’t needed in my opinion. While I did enjoy Into the Water, it didn’t keep me gripped as much as others in this genre have recently.
Buy it here: Amazon UK
9 thoughts on “Into the Water – Paula Hawkins”
I’m not surprised at your reaction to this novel. I think hype directly influences our expectations.
Hype definitely influences my views on books – even if I don’t want it to! I’m not sure that I’d have thought anything different about this one though even if I hadn’t read The Girl on the Train.
Ah this is interesting- I’ve heard similar things about the number of narrators being a tad confusing, but that’s good to know about the twists not blowing you away. I wasn’t totally convinced by Girl on a train, so will probably skip this one, but great review!
Yeah I didn’t think it was a bad book at all, it just wasn’t stand out amazing. I’m not sure if I’d recommend it over other authors in this genre, which is always the ultimate test for me!
That’s a shame, as it they said it was “as good as” the first one. It is always tricky though after a lot of succes to please everyone not to say it is impossible
The Girl on the Train was always going to be a tough book to follow! This wasn’t a bad book, it just didn’t blow me away!
I’ve heard great things about this one from a lot of people.
I guess having that many narrators could be a deal breaker for many, but I’m hoping I’ll end up getting use to them too. The pace could be a problem too, though. I do enjoy the biased POVs concept, even if it may get repetitive at times.
Great review, once again 🙂
I thought the numerous narrators would be an issue for me and I was surprised when this worked OK. I listened to it as an audiobook, and each character had their own narrator, so it was quite easy to tell them apart. And I agree, I also enjoy the biased narrator thing – this book actually does this really well! Thanks 🙂
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