Saturday, December 26, 2020

Paula Hawkins - Into the Water

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.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Comment: I saw this book at the library and impulsively decided to bring it with me. The author actually reached the hype status so many authors aspire to with her first book, which I read, but that I thought wasn't as well done because the big twist wasn't very believable. Do you know what? The same thing happened in this story, which means the author obviously has a formula of her own...

When this story begins we follow a vast set of characters as they tell us or go through the motions and we follow along the events that led to another death in the river in the place they all live in. The latest death was that of Nel Abbott, who was looking for to write the stories of all the women who had killed themselves in the river - or so the story goes - but Nel didn't really fit the profile. Now her sister comes to see what needs to be done and to take responsibility for her niece Lena but returning makes her remember a lot of things from her childhood which she wanted to forget. As the clues pile up, several things start to become doubtful as why Nel might have committed suicide. And what connection between her and a teenager who also killed herself that year...?

I can only imagine the kind of plans the author had for this book, the ideas popping up and the kind of work she did before she even stated writing. Many things are happening when it comes to plot, some things had to be done in a way for the reader to keep guessing but I wonder if, among all the pre-writing, the author actually thought about how the psychological side of things would look like. I say this because, to me, the issue with this novel is how it promises, how it suggests a certain element, but then....the peak of the story doesn't fully deliver (to me).

I should say I felt the same with her other book. She planned and thought and designed a way for things to go and they do develop well enough, but I don't think the motives and the way the characters reached that point where they went and committed the crimes was well done. It just doesn't feel like things are well explained, too many little details, which are meant to be the links between clues/key moments, just don't seem to make sense in regards to that character or that personality or that situation. I'd say the biggest issue for me is that the psychological side of things is not really believable.

Perhaps I could say Julia is the main character in this book. It's true that there are many but her chapters are in first person and she is probably the character with more chapters. I could see and appreciate the work done when it came to plan for her personality, as well as for the other characters' and that is why the complexity of everything seems to fizzle out somehow. The author did a good job in collecting elements to construct her story but I don't think she used that information in the best way to deliver a satisfying novel, for the most part.

There are many characters, like I said, and they aren't all very reliable. There's this dissociation between what they say and how they act and, sometimes, that's probably just to let the reader wonder what is happening, how can things be linked. On the other hand, it makes the plot feel as if it's much more complex and much darker and weirder than what ends up being, ultimately, revealed. I confess I felt let down because I created these explanations in sequence to what was going on but when all the clues are put together, there were some things not explained, others were very weakly related to anything important and others were misleading into a pointless goal.

The writing itself is pleasant to read, the way things are told allows the reader to be immersed in the atmosphere and there are truly gorgeous passages. I liked how the action takes place in an area used in the past to "judge" witches and  I thought more about that would matter but, in the end, everything was more bland than what I imagined. Not even the why Nel died was that well done.... some situations were also a bit predictable, especially that related to Katie, another woman/girl who drowned in the river.

All in all, not a bad story if one thinks about it as a whole. But when I think about each situation, each detail to make things work, there are several which could have been done so much better...

Grade: 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment