Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

When a writer has one crazy successful book, do you automatically read the next one she comes out with?

I felt conflicted about picking up a copy of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. I truly enjoyed Girl on the Train when I read it in 2015, but it wasn’t my favorite book ever. To be honest, I’d only half-heartedly recommend GotT to friends. But I knew that with all the hype around Into the Water, including already purchased movie rights, I’d feel the urge to read it at some point. Then with Book of the Month Club offering it as an add on to my box, the answer became even simpler. Add it to my Box!

Before I even opened the book, I was seeing crazy mixed reviews. Loved it, hated it, everyone had a STRONG opinion. My opinion: I really enjoyed this book, so much more than I anticipated. At the end I couldn’t put it down, and without giving too many spoilers, I read the final sentence three times. If you read my recaps, you know I hate when an ending drags on. None of that here!

In a few words – this book was eerie and engaging until the final punch. Go get a copy! Or if you live in San Diego, come be my friend and you can borrow mine! 😉

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.”


What I liked:

That Paula Hawkins writing style. I remember learning about the phrase “Dramatic Irony” in my high school English class, and realizing how much of a rush it can give the reader. (Dramatic Irony is when the reader knows more than the characters.) Paula Hawkins writes in an almost ‘elevated dramatic irony’ (totally making that phrase up). A typical trio of chapters in a Hawkins book would include:

  1. The action is building until the scene you are anticipating is about to occur;
  2. Other characters, not at the scene speculating about the action;
  3. One of the characters involved in the action recounting the scene in the aftermath.

This style is SO compelling, leads you to turning the pages to find out what happened while also feeling a sense of dramatic irony throughout. And despite feeling like the writing was slightly calculated, it truly never bothered me because it worked so well.

What I didn’t like:

To be honest with you, I had a HARD time putting the characters together at the start. This is definitely a product of how I read it, but still – I could’ve used some family trees at the start! I read the first ten pages in Pittsburgh, PA. Then then next thirty in a park in Denver, CO. And then didn’t pick it up again until I got to San Diego, CA. I forgot some characters along the way and had to do some flipping back to get caught up. Minor gripe, but I had to have one, right?

Food for Thought:

1 – It’s interesting that this book came out so close after the Netflix series,  13 Reasons Why, which experienced so much backlash for its graphic suicide scene. Many are claiming (backed by scientific research) that having that exposure to suicide would push someone considering it in to doing it.

In this book, the mother of the teenage girl who committed suicide, claims that Nel Abbott’s research of the “suicide spot”, which created a sense of hype around it, may have tipped her daughter over the edge in to going through with it.

I found it interesting to see this concept reinforced in another piece of literature, because this was not a phenomenon I had even heard of previously. It makes me wonder, while this book doesn’t glorify suicide, and I would argue neither does “13 Reasons Why”, should we all stop writing about suicide?

“Her daughter made a senseless choice, but pockets filled with stones and hands grasping flowers, the choice had context. The context was provided by Nel Abbott”

2 – More lighthearted, but does anyone else feel like it takes a solid 100 pages (almost EXACTLY) to get in to a good book? I’ve experienced this so much over the past year, to the point where I used to get my Book of the Month box, and sit down and commit to reading 100 pages straight. If I don’t boost through the first 100, I feel like the rest of the book doesn’t resonate as much with me. In this case, I read the first 100 slowly, and while I still clearly really liked it, the second I thought to myself “wow this book is really good”, I looked down and noticed I was on page 101.

That’s all from me! I hope you pick up a copy of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and immerse yourself in this crazy world. I’m giving this one a 5/5!


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

  1. Just like you said… the book remained highly suspenseful and thrilling but the characters did get muddled-up. although i LOVED the book, it wasn’t my favorite thriller of the year. ‘The Dry’ did it for me in 2017. A really atmospheric thriller.

    Liked by 1 person

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