I spent last summer trying to find the next The Girl on the Train only to be disappointed every time. Sure, there were thrillers and many were quite good, but none of them kept me on the edge of my seat the way that book had. None of them kept me furiously flipping page after page, thinking I had figured out “whodunit” only to be convinced on the next page that it must have been someone else. I was beginning to think that a thriller like that might be a one-time thing. But then Ms. Hawkins wrote another book…
I’ll admit that as much as I loved The Girl on the Train, I was a little hesitant about Into the Water. It had received a lot of mixed reviews – not bad reviews, just mixed. It didn’t seem to be embraced quite as enthusiastically as The Girl on the Train had been. I think part of this is due to the writing style. Ms. Hawkins once again crafts her story through multiple points of view, and I think the large number of them in this book threw some people for a loop. I counted ten different characters’ points of view that we get in this story. There may even be one or two that I’m leaving out. As I just graduated and find myself with “read for fun” time again, I was able to read this book in less than a week, which I think helped me to keep the characters straight in my head and avoid confusion. This is not a book I would have been able to follow had I only been able to pick it up once or twice a week. I would have found myself spending a good amount of time trying to remember who was who and what was going on. So, I suggest that you pick this up on vacation or a weekend or sometime when you know you’ll have the time commitment needed to stay on top of all that is going on in this story.
The writing shifts between first person, second person, and third person, which is difficult to pull off yet I think works in this book. It helps with the unreliability of each character. However, I know some fellow bookbutterflies who absolutely hate it when a story doesn’t stick with one consistent writing style throughout the book. So if you’re one of those, then you will likely find yourself distracted if not downright frustrated and might struggle to get through this one.
But, I have to say, multiple characters and shifts in point of view created quite the mystery! I was caught up in this story right away. Although the characters in this story aren’t quite as developed as the ones in Ms. Hawkins previous novel, they are still quite human and quite unpredictable. Every emotion from the stages of teenager to adulthood is felt in this book – love, heartache, growing pains, anger, grief, confusion. These characters are unpredictable, unreliable, and very, very human. There is Nel, the woman found dead in the water (not a spoiler, it’s what the whole book is based on), Jules (Nel’s sister), Lena (Nel’s daughter), then there are the citizens of Beckford, everyone from the police investigators to a well-known school teacher to the local psychic. Everyone has their say in this story.
I will say that the ending felt rather anti-climactic to me. I had read of this incredible twist ending that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat until the very last sentence. It really wasn’t that much of a shock. I had questioned this particular character throughout the book and as I read through the final chapters, I was almost certain it was this character. The ending didn’t leave my jaw hanging open in shock as I had expected from all the hype. It merely confirmed my suspicions. It was a good ending and I think a fitting ending for this tale, but it was just too hyped up, as unfortunately happens often with thrillers.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read. It felt good to be caught up in a thriller again, one that kept me up at night flipping through the pages. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys mysteries and doesn’t mind multiple character narration.
Coming Next Week: An article about something all writers get and all writers hate – writer’s block! I’ll share my own experiences with writer’s block and offer some suggestions on how to combat that most annoying of roadblocks to success. Subscribe to the blog or sign up with your email here so you don’t miss out!