I’m going to say it, and you may hate me for this – but I didn’t like ‘The Girl On The Train’. Undeniably it was well written, and the perspective of Rachel as an unreliable narrator was intriguing, and the plot twist at the end when the who dunnit was revealed was spectacularly plot twisty and I didn’t see that coming – but I still didn’t love it as a novel. Compared to all this massive hype it had been getting as a novel, it just didn’t live up to my expectations. It had been described as the next ‘Gone Girl’, a novel I loved because of the delicious motives of its characters, but ‘The Girl On The Train’ didn’t grip me like Gillian Flynn’s novel did. I had expected something amazing because of all the hype, and ‘The Girl On The Train’ just didn’t deliver. I did arrive late to the party, but still. So I didn’t have high expectations wandering towards ‘Into The Water’ – a thing which probably counted in its favour as I have heard literally no hype about it since before its release. Not to mention it must be incredibly hard to deliver up to everyone’s expectations after your debut novel does extremely well.
‘Into The Water’ was everything I had expected from ‘The Girl On The Train’ and hadn’t got – it was shrouded in a mystery that I desperately wanted to know the answer to, and left me suspicious that we weren’t being told the whole truth right up until the very last page. It was beautifully plotted and well executed, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Psychological thrillers have really taken the literary world by storm at the moment, and Paula Hawkins’ second novel didn’t disappoint. As someone who wasn’t particularly enraptured with her first novel, I really think Hawkins upped her game with this small town mystery.
Reminiscent of Midsommer Murders, it does follow the stereotypical pattern of the murder mystery – but then again when you pick up a novel from this genre you are going to expect it to follow certain patterns. There was a bit of a cluttered menagerie of perspectives, but it worked – Hawkins drip fed us all these crucial details chapter by chapter from the characters at the heart of this story. Some characters earlier on in the novel, you are left questioning “Why are you here?”, but towards the end of the novel these characters make perfect sense and are crucial to piecing together what happened to some of these women at the Drowing Pool.
I’ve always been a sucker for mythic settings, which is exactly what Hawkins was aiming for when including the ancient history of Beckford in her story – the deaths of women have been happening here for centuries, is there really anything amiss with these ones?
Overall I was really impressed with this novel – Hawkins left me guessing right up until the last page, delivering her conclusion beautifully. Personally, I so much preferred this to her debut novel, and I think this shows that she has so much more promising things to come in her literary career. If she can deliver a novel like this after all that hype, this is definitely good news for the stories to come! I would give it a 5/5 because I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, and like her character Nel I was so drawn to the stories of the women of the water.