Beth's Book Review

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

29e3866ee116b9629e01_Into_the_Water.jpg
29e3866ee116b9629e01_Into_the_Water.jpg

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying attention to what I was reading due to personal distractions, and decided to do something that I had never done with a novel before; I started reading the book from the beginning.

Promising to give the book my full attention on the second go around, I did something else that I had never done before. I created a chart so that I could remember who each character was in relationship to the other characters. As I did this, I wondered, “If the reader has to keep a list of characters in order to remember who is who, there's a problem with the book (unless of course, the author is George R. R. Martin, creator of the Game of Thrones series, who has to keep a complex chart for himself just to keep clear on who's who).”

Sign Up for E-News

So I pondered, “What is the problem with this novel?” and came to the conclusion that there are several issues that a good editor should have realized and insisted that the writer fix. The story could have been intriguing. The novel is about women who have been turning up dead in a place referred to as “the Beckford Drowning Pool.” As Nel Abbott, one of the characters who lives near the ominous spot, explained in a book that she was researching when she became a victim of drowning, “This is the place that, over centuries, has claimed the lives of Libby Beeton, Mary Marsh, Anne Ward, Ginny Thomas, Lauren Slater, Katie Whittaker, and more---countelss others, nameless and faceless.” (p. 41)

Obviously, the major theme of the novel is “women as victims,” which again is currently popular, largely to the “Me Too” movement. So we have the potential of good story, some history, and a contemporary theme.

A truly engaging story has to have characters in whom the reader invests, whether we love them or despise them. (If you have never read The Third Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders, check out the villain, Daniel Blank, and tell me that he isn't one of the most riveting characters to ever appear in a thriller. Or consider Hannibel Lecter in Thomas Harris's The Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, a truly creepy figment of Harris's imagination). Character development is the first aspect in which Paula Hawkins fails in Into the Water.

But that is only part of the novel's problem. Hawkins follows the current vogue of telling the story via multiple character point of view, which is becoming a trite vehicle for narration. Each chapter, which reveals a piece of the story from the perspective of one of the characters, is only two to four pages long. Then Hawkins jumps to another character, and then another (which explains the need for a character chart). The narrative is jumpy and prevents us from ever getting to know the most important piece, what motivates the people in the tale to do the things that they do?

I think we are supposed to be sad because a teenage girl named Katie Whittaker died in the Drowning Pool. I wasn't. I didn't feel too badly for Katie's crazy mother, either as she grieved for her lost child. I should have. I should have liked Lena Abbott, Katie's best friend. I didn't. In fact, I felt very little. I think I was at least supposed to have been interested in Julia (call me Jules) Abbott, aunt of Lena and estranged sister of Nel Whittaker. I wasn't. I think you get the point. There was really no one in whom to invest. Therefore, due to the lack of character development, the story never gelled properly.

Into the Water is a big disappointment, sorry to report. I would suggest to Paula Hawkins that if she wishes to continue as a New York Times best selling author, she may want to consider joining a writers' group or getting a keener editor.

 

 

Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at trackdak19@hotmail.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_70c3726c05e39d4b59a1_covenant_place_1

Wed, June 27, 10:00 AM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Senior Space

Education Health & Wellness

Mayor Mapp: Reunir las familias

June 24, 2018

Hay momentos en la historia en los que seremos juzgados no por nuestras acciones, sino por la falta de acción. Si la historia nos ha enseñado algo, es que no podemos quedarnos callados esperando que otros hablen por nosotros; luchar por lo bien siempre ha requerido voces altas, una llama, unidad de propósito, y tenacidad.

En los últimos meses, hemos visto acciones ...

Murphy Signs Bill Ending Child Marriage Championed by Westfield’s Fraidy Reiss and Unchained at Last

June 23, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill Friday that bars individuals under the age of 18 from marrying or entering a civil union. It was a major win for Fraidy Reiss, founder Westfield-based Unchained At Last, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls in the US to escape or resist arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives.

This makes New Jersey the second ...

SRO'S - ENSEÑANDO POR EJEMPLO

June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...