Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Just quickly, I want to let you all know why I haven’t been posting much. I’m going back to one post per week until my exams are over – they have to take priority at the moment. So today I’m going to be posting my review of Paula Hawkins’ highly-anticipated second novel, ‘Into the Water’. I was so glad to be sent an ARC of this — thanks so much to Penguin Random House for that! Keep reading to find out my thoughts…
In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.
Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.
But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.
And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to suicide
‘Into The Water’ is Paula Hawkins’ second novel and is released today (2nd May 2017), following on from the highly-successful ‘The Girl On The Train’. Her debut was so successful even became a major hit Hollywood film starring Emily Blunt. But I’m sure most of my readers will have heard of it – if you haven’t, check it out immediately! Hawkins previously worked as a journalist and now lives in London.
‘The Girl On The Train’ made such a massive impact in the thriller/suspense genre, and it’s fair to say that Hawkins’ second novel has been long-awaited. It’s already received tremendous praise, for example by Shari Lapena: “Paula Hawkins does it again! Into The Water is a complex, moody and chilling thriller that will have you madly turning the pages.” and Megan Abbott: “Into The Water was everything I hoped it would be and more. Twisty, captivating and, by the last third, like jumper cables to my heart!”
I must say that I was highly impressed with ‘Into The Water’. It’s an outstanding second novel, crammed full of suspense and thrills, and I’d even go as far to say that it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The narrative essentially follows a large cast of characters who are drawn together by the death (drowning) of Nel Abbott, and many more mysteries of The Drowning Pool come to light.
The novel opens with Jules’, Nel’s sister’s, perspective, as she is given the news that her sister has drowned. Much speculation surrounds her death – did she jump? Was she pushed? Was it a tragic accident? Jules is called in to care for Nel’s daughter Lena, as the police and other characters investigate exactly what happened to Nel.
It’s difficult for me to choose between my favourite character – either Jules or Lena. Jules is first portrayed as a cold-hearted, selfish character, but it soon becomes clear that she has many demons lurking beneath the surface. I really empathised with Jules towards the end of the book. Lena is an odd character who behaves bizarrely, at times, in the light of her mother’s death. But she also has a dark past buried inside of her, and throughout the novel she becomes a much more likeable and relateable character.
The narrative is told from many different perspectives. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which was narrated by so many different characters! We follow the lives of Jules (Nel’s sister), Sean Townsend (Detective Inspector), Nickie (local madwoman), Lena (Nel’s daughter), Mark (Lena’s teacher), Louise (Katie’s mother), Erin (policewoman), Patrick (Sean’s father), Helen (Sean’s wife) and more. Sound confusing? The narrative also jumps back in time, including diary entries and book extracts.
Whilst it was interesting to read about events from so many different perspectives, it was slightly confusing at times. My only negative about the book would actually be that there are too many perspectives – whilst I think that most of the characters were relevant and needed for this complex plot to work, I do think that a couple didn’t add much and could have been cut.
As the narrative motors on, many more mysteries are created in relation to The Drowning Pool. Nel’s death in The Drowning Pool isn’t the only one, and as we go back and forwards in time it’s clear to see that the Pool holds much more significance than the reader may first anticipate. The pacing in this novel is pretty varied, but I actually think it works – the narrative slows down when the reader needs some answers, and speeds up as we reach the climax.
Hawkins’ writing is chilling and excellently-crafted. I absolutely love her style of writing: quick, snappy chapters that leave you on the edge of your seat every time. If you’ve read ‘The Girl On The Train’, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I talk about her fast-paced, thrilling writing style. ‘Into The Water’ definitely adopts a similar style.
The ending of the novel is absolutely fantastic. I could never have anticipated the “whodunnit” – in fact, I was really far off! All the subtle clues and mysteries are finally solved in a shocking resolution. For the final sixty pages or so my eyes were glued to the pages, and I couldn’t have put it down if I tried. The complex, multi-layered plot and events of the novel are finally resolved, and I really felt that I could breathe a sigh of relief at the end. So much tension!
Overall, I would highly recommend this novel to those of you who love thrillers, specifically those of you who enjoy reading about mysteries surrounding multiple deaths. For me, it didn’t quite match ‘The Girl On The Train’ – but I loved that book so much that it would have been pretty impossible to top it! An excellent, thrilling read that will leave an impact long after reading.
Happy reading 🙂