I read Into the Water, the second novel from Paula Hawkins, while on holiday in Cornwall this summer and honestly enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
The story centres around the Drowning Pool, a part of the river where many woman have drowned as far back as the 1600's. The book opens with another body being found - Nel Abbotts, who just so happened to be writing a book about the Drowning Pool and its victims, much to the anger of the locals. Their objection to the book means everyone is a suspect, including Nel's sister Jules who has come to identify the body... With video evidence suggesting suicide, people’s relief that the book will never be published and Jules conviction that Nel wouldn’t have jumped, will the secrets of the Drowning Pool, and the truth behind Nel’s death, ever be discovered?
The story is told from the point of view of ten characters who share one thing in common; they all knew Nel Abbot... At first this style of writing felt distorted and had me wondering why all these characters were so important, especially as it featured flashbacks or tangents and at time I was wondering where Hawkins was going with it, surely it had to be going somewhere otherwise it wouldn't have been written like that! And I think I was about half way through when it finally clicked, and from then on in I couldn't put it down! Each character POV is a tributary, flowing along separately but all heading in the same direction and joining together at the end and it's brilliant!
Working in a bookshop I have spoken to many different people about 'Into the Water' and although the style of writing and multiple POVs wasn't everyone's cup of tea, for me it was perfect. What I admired the most is that Hawkins didn't play it safe and try recreate 'Girl on the Train'. She branched out and tried a new style of writing. A brave move after the success she had with GotT but one that I feel has only helped establish her as an author.
If you are hoping for another ‘Girl on the Train’ then you are going to be very disappointed. ‘Into the Water’ is a completely different novel and supports itself but still has that element of surprise and unpredictability that we all loved from GotT.