In the small English town of Beckford, there’s a river that runs through and leads to the Drowning Pool. Over the centuries, women have met their end in the cold waters of the pool.
The Drowning Pool’s latest victim is Nel Abbott, who was in the midst of writing a book about the pool’s history. Nel’s sister, Jules, is forced to return to the town she hates to care for her teen niece who was left behind, Lena.
Is Nel’s death linked to the book she was writing, or is it connected to the recent suicide of Lena’s best friend, Katie, who was taken in by the Drowning Pool? Or did Nel’s fascination with the water become an obsession she couldn’t handle?
Whatever the reason, both deaths will uncover town secrets, both new and old.
Last year I finally jumped on the bandwagon, and read and reviewed The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins’ debut. A summary: Meh.
After reading, I did think Hawkins showed enough talent that I wanted to give her another shot. I did my best to judge Into the Water on its own merits, but sadly this book was not for me.
Before I get too negative, there were some elements I liked, mainly that Hawkins set out to do something different than The Girl on the Train. There are multiple narrators and two mysteries that are being unraveled side-by-side. Hawkins was also able to incorporate the ‘unreliable’ narrator factor in an unique way.
Sadly, the main carryover from The Girl on the Train was the one element I was hoping would be dropped, the unlikable characters. Not just that they’re mean and cruel, I would expect that from a mystery/thriller, but just so many sad sacks. This book was a stone cold bummer.
One character finally gets a backbone at the very end, and that was the ONLY time I was excited, because I had someone to root for, which is all I wanted!
Another aspect of the characters that killed the book for me was the amount of narrators. I like that Hawkins went for multiple points of view, but there were too many people. At least a couple could’ve been dropped. Keeping track of everyone and their motivations was dizzying in the first fifty pages.
I think what really did me in was the anticlimactic ending. For all of its faults, at least The Girl on the Train had a couple of ‘Oh My Gawd!’ moments. The only one ‘Whoa’ I had in Into the Water didn’t even have anything to do with with the mysteries!
By the time plot points were officially ‘revealed’ to the reader, Hawkins had already tipped her hand.
Ultimately, I felt like Into the Water fell into a middle ground, and Hawkins should have picked a direction. If she wants tons of red herrings and back and forth intrigue with a ton of characters, then I wish it would have gone more pulpy and fun.
If Hawkins wanted something deeper and compelling, like a Gone Girl, then she should have dropped some red herrings and focused on half the characters featured. There was something there with Jules’ character and her complicated relationship with her deceased sister.
I would only recommend this to those who loved The Girl on the Train, because this isn’t going to win anyone over that didn’t like Hawkins’ debut novel. Honestly, for those on the fence, I would suggest just skipping Into the Water and watching the first season of Broadchurch. Much better!