Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Man, sometimes I am really far behind in my reviews. Like months, or even years, after the hype of a book has died down. Sometimes I juggle with the choice of not bothering to post a review but do you know what, I can’t resist. Every book I read I want to share my thoughts and hopefully get into a discussion in the comments. With that, to the next review!

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins starts with Julia getting the news of the death of her sister Nel, just days after she ignored an urgent phone call from her. Now Nel is dead, an apparent suicide, and Julia needs to go back to a place she vowed to leave behind for good. Julia is afraid of the memories and secrets that might surface on her return to the old Mill House, but is more afraid of the thought that Nel might not have jumped at all.

See, I think I spoiled this book for myself before I even started. Paula Hawkins is the author of The Girl on the Train, a book I loved, and I expected more of the same thing in Into The Water. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. I won’t make a comparison of the two books here, but bear in mind when reading this review that I already went in with bias. You may not have the same experience.

Into The Water opens with much intrigue: why did Julia and Nel have a bad relationship? Why were so few people saddened to hear of Nel’s death? Why was Nel obsessed with water and the “drowning pool”? Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that this story was full of mystery. The thing is, there were points in the book that kept me turning pages to find out what happened but, by the end of the book, the mystery and intrigue seemed to fall flat on its face. Not all of it but enough to leave me feeling unsatisfied. There was eventually a good twist to the story, but I feel like Hawkins could have done a lot more with the characters she built up and the element of mystery originally presented.

There are a lot of characters in this book and not one of them likeable. But that is ok. I don’t need a character to be likeable to enjoy the book and, in this case, it took nothing away from the story. In Into The Water, each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the characters and, for me, this is where things begin to get messy. The chapters jump a lot from character to character and from past to present. I think this made it hard to really get a feel for a character and the story in general. In time, the story does piece itself together but at the start, it feels like a game of who’s who.

I guess the main conclusion here is that I was disappointed in Into The Water. At the same time, I wouldn’t shun it. I picked it up to read when I was sick and it provided me with some release. Once I got to terms with the characters, it was an easy enough read for my fragile state. I’d recommend it for similar situations or as a light holiday read.

If you have read Into The Water, let me know in the comments what you thought. Are my reasons for disappointment justified or did I enter on uneven footing because I was already comparing it to The Girl on the Train?

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

14 thoughts

  1. It can be so hard to like a book when you loved the authors previous book. I personally didn’t like The Girl on the Train, I didn’t even finish it! So I wasn’t inclined to pick this one up. Which is a shame cos it’s my kinda genre. Great review, as always!

    1. Yeah I know a few people who didn’t like The Girl on the Train so much. I liked it but didn’t get the massive hype. I thought I read it too soon after Gone Girl. Anyway, I guess I can’t win them all in the book world.

  2. I was disappointed by Into The Water too! I expected an amazing book after Girl On The Train but received an above-average read. Hope she improves with her next book though. 🙂

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