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I got a bad feeling during my first few minutes into this book, about the time the umpteenth character was being introduced, realizing that I'd lost complete track of the *whos* and *whats.* You know the feeling; you're listening along and feel like you're suddenly in a crowd of unfamiliar faces, wondering how you got wherever you are. I started over, committing a little more attention. It didn't help and that sinking feeling came over me again. But, "this was the author of The Girl on the Train! Paula Hawkins! An author compared to Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott!" I trudged on until I felt like one of the characters in the book...I wanted to walk into that water until it flooded over my head and drowned out the words that were going into my ears. What a relief *blub blub blub* would be compared to this bloated, insufficiently complicated plotline that seemed to be choking under its own tangle of contrivance and banality.
Into the Water lacked a believable psychological premise, and crumbled under the weight of its own implausibility. The back and forth chronology was enough to give you motion sickness; the myriad of unlikeable characters either unnecessary and poorly drawn, or interjected; the plot buried under a congestion of side ramblings that carried you further away from resolution. A combination of too many innocuous storylines, too many ambiguous characters unraveled into a tangled knot that prevented a focused forward projection or mental connection. Hawkins showed none of the taut pacing that made TGOTT a psychological thriller. Everything about Into the Water feels awkward and sadly, absurd. I would love to give examples to back up my opinion, but won't spoil those elements.
I feel bad for Hawkins, an author so *in the spotlight* from her previous blockbuster; surprised that a savvy editor wouldn't point out the structural problems because this is truly one of the most poorly structured novels I've read. One review I came across stated the story dragged, but Hawkins threw in a surprise switch-up ending...that may be some reader's opinion, not mine. Novels should be polished versions of a first draft where every chapter is significant. I never want to spend hours and pages (that feel like a work in progress) for one chapter of good story telling. To me, this book had that lack of quality you look for and expect from a seasoned writer.
190 of 210 people found this review helpful
Paula Hawkins set the bar high for herself with her debut novel, ”There Girl on the Train." With "Into the Water" she has cleared that bar with feet to spare.
"Into the Water" is not an audiobook to be listened to casually, while doing something else, but it hugely rewards the reader who pays attention and grows familiar with its myriad narrative voices, only some of which are reliable.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful