INTO THE WATER - by Paula Hawkins

INTO THE WATER - Paula Hawkins
Published: 2017 - by Transworld Publishers.
Pages: 353.
Genres: Adult / thriller / mystery  contemporary fiction /
Triggers/Content Advisory: Strong theme of rape including the actual incident, strong themes of abuse and suicide, and infrequent violence and bad language.
Format: Signed hardcover.
Source: Won from Readerswarehouse!
The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train returns with Into the Water, her addictive new novel of psychological suspense. 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.

When I got the email telling me I'd won a copy of this darling baby I LITERALLY SQUEALED AND JUMPED AROUND THE HOUSE. It's my most anticipated book of the year, and after LOVING The Girl on the Train (which is probably my favourite novel of all time) I was INCREDIBLY ECSTATIC to read Hawkins' new work.
And despite a slow start, it just about lived up to my expectations.

I could get drunk on Hawkins' writing. Heck, I think I was for most of the book. It's intoxicating, breathtaking, lulls you under just to stab you on the way down. The sentence structure is impeccable, and the words are bare-bone, razor-sharp, and unflinchingly raw.
There is a lot of telling. This does get frustrating, but I don't think it's there for lack of talent or effort on Hawkins' part; the reportive - 'telling' - style does suit the atmosphere and the characters, and I honestly don't think you'd get the same effectiveness without it. This is Hawkins' style - and in the bigger picture I don't mind the telling so much.
The dialogue is entrancing. It's crisp, realistic, and with a bite of subtext in every exchange. The characters' voices are clear and distinguishable (in most cases; this is a big cast), and I just love the way Hawkins writes dialogue.

“Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.”

“Yes, it is. It’s, like, when someone has an affair, why does the wife always hate the other woman? Why doesn’t she hate her husband? He’s the one who’s betrayed her, he’s the one who swore to love her and keep her and whatever forever and ever. Why isn’t he the one who gets shoved off a f****** cliff?”

The whole story is extremely atmospheric. The Drowning Pool, the town, are as much characters as the human cast, and from start to finish the story rocks back and forth on a fraying, ice-coated rope of dread, fear, and anticipation that would not be there without the town and its surroundings. The setting is phenomenally well imagined.
Another thing I love about Hawkins is her fascination with the human psyche. This story, like TGOTT, is incredibly perceptive, and the author's probing look at relationships - especially between men and women - is absolutely extraordinary. She raises thought-provoking questions, never judging, and unashamedly splits open uncomfortable but relatable topics.

The story is intelligent. The shocks keep coming, and despite a slow first quarter the story soon picks up the pace.  Although it is a pretty slow book, I personally was never bored.
You are constantly doubting yourself and what you think you know. And when all the twisted strands finally come together, the answers are intricate and breathtaking. The mystery - mysteries - is so clever. I adore how all the characters' secrets and stories weave together to create a ghastly, stunning, unpredictably clever plot.

"You thought what he did was okay?"...... "No, but I don't think I saw it for what it was. I thought rape was something a bad man did to you, a man who jumped out at you in an alleyway in the dead of night, a man who held a knife to your throat. I didn't think boys did it. Not school boys...not good-looking boys. I didn't think they did it to you in your own living room, I didn't think they talked to you about it afterwards, and asked you if you'd had a good time. I just thought I must have done something wrong, that I hadn't made it clear enough that I didn't want it."     
How heartbreaking - and sickeningly realistic - is this delusion? 

The cast of characters is way too big. They all have depth and personality, definitely, but if Hawkins had cut down on the number of characters - or at least the different point of views - she could've focused on the important few, and we would've been able to get a stronger idea of those people - instead of a glimpse spread thinly over too many.
But having said that, I didn't mind the big cast so much when I reached about the halfway mark. It gets easier to keep everyone in order, and in retrospect I have a good idea of everyone.
There are too many characters, but it doesn't ruin the book - not at all.

The characters are all so human and realistic. I love how deeply flawed, damaged, and tormented everyone is, and how extremely unreliable they all are, too. Erin Morgan is the only character I genuinely like, but I don't mind unlikeable characters in general - the lack of 'good guys' didn't bother me in this story. I love broken, very human people. And Hawkins excels at making them relatable, too.

The characters who truly stand out for me are Jules, Sean, Erin, and Lena. I love the depth of these particular people and how their arcs are so strongly written. I ache for everyone in this book - for all their hurts, their secrets, their mistakes - and I do wish there'd been more closure at the end of the book. It's not completely satisfying. I wanted Robbie to face justice, I wanted some other people to face's too open-ended. But thankfully not so much so that you feel cheated.

Into the Water is a mesmerising, insightful, hypnotically written story that sees Hawkins diving deep into human nature and relationships. With broken, unreliable characters, an atmospheric scene, and unforeseeable twists, it's as shocking and gut-wrenchingly realistic as you'd expect from the author of The Girl on the Train

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