Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins: My Take on the Book


Updated: July 19
Welcome to my frustrating life! My original review, which I posted this morning and shared on google+, twitter and facebook, mysteriously reverted to an earlier incomplete version later in the day. I've tried to recreate the post but I'm sure it's not the same as the earlier published version. But I'm frustrated and exhausted, so I'm leaving it as is for now. Thanks for your understanding.

About halfway through reading Into the Water by Paula Hawkins I was so confused about who was who, I went back to the beginning of the book & leafed through the pages, writing down all the character's names along with a brief description of who they were. Even then, the novel—about women who jump, fall, are pushed to their death; or even, in the old days, dunked as witches, into the drowning pool—was pretty convoluted. 

The novel opens with Julia (Jules) talking to her dead sister Nel Abbot, the latest victim of the drowning pool, a still and quiet section of a river near her home . A writer/ photographer, Nel's death comes while she is in the midst of working on her passion project, a book about the river and the women it takes. As for Nel, we don't know whether she tripped and fell, jumped or was pushed. The two sisters haven't spoken in years but Nel, a single mother, leaves behind a teenage daughter and Jules comes to attend her sister's funeral and to help take care of her niece in the aftermath of the event.

Expecting a fast-paced mystery along the lines of Hawkin's best selling The Girl on the Train, I wasn't just confused, I was disappointed. While Girl on the Train speeds along, Into the Water meanders slowly, like a sluggish stream, filled with muck and debris, taking forever to get to the point. 

Along the way we discover and are expected to believe the reason Jules hasn't talked to her sister dates to an incident from their teenage years. It's a revelation that defies belief, but we're expected to buy it. I didn't and I don't think you will either. 

There are other things like that, clues and misdirections, so many cloudy characters, flashbacks but for you avid mystery readers, I doubt they will fool you. They didn't fool me, and while the last page is the very best page of the book, I have to say, not only is it the ending I expected, but I couldn't help think it didn't make the rest of the 385 pages worth reading.

Who dunnit? You'll see.

Dreamworks optioned the film rights to the book just prior to the publication this past May—I'm sure they saw a copy—with Marc Platt set to produce. Platt, who produced The Girl on the Train, has given us some terrific films (LaLaLand, Legally Blonde, Into the Woods) and I have no doubt with the right screenwriter on board, he'll do the same with Into the Water.

Have you read Into the Water? Do you agree? Or am I all wet?

1 comment:

  1. I should add, this is one of those books that in the right hands will make a very good film. The right screenwriter will cut out all that flopsam & jetsam and construct a great story. Not one of those "the book was better" scenarios.

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