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Book Review: Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

A few months back Puneet got me a copy of Paula Hawkin’s Into The Water and two brilliant things happened. First, my husband finally understood out what kind of books I like and second, another brilliant author is added into my “Authors to read” list. Into The Water is a pretty different book from what I usually read, it’s sad, has multiple narrations and the story is set in a bleak town. But it grows on you and you cannot stop reading it until you find out what exactly happened to Nel Abbott. 

The story of Into The Water opens with the death of Nel Abbott in the Drowning Pool. The reason for her death is different from person to person, but the two most important people’s opinion and input matters the most to the police, Nel’s daughter, and sister.

Nel’s teenage daughter Lena believes it was a suicide that took her mother away, but Nel’s sister Jules believes that reason is something or someone else. As Jules starts investigating the mystery behind her sister’s death, ugly scars from her childhood rip open again. She also finds out that Nel has made a number of enemies because of the book she was writing on Beckford’s Drowning Pool and the lives that have been finished into that pool. She also comes across a hard truth that Lena’s best friend Katie, died a few months earlier in the same place. Nel wrote in her book that “Beckford is not a suicide spot. Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women,”

The story of Into The Water leads to waves of new characters and plots chapter after chapter. And within those chapters, the truth is looking silently into your face and you won’t be able to figure it out. There are definitely hints as to what exactly happened to Nel Abbott, but you won’t be able to point a finger at it until the end. And the end is something that you will be able to recognize mid-book only if you are a smart reader. 

What I loved about Into The Water was that for someone who doesn’t read sad fictional stories (because I get hung up and I am still like an impressionable child), I really liked it. Multiple narrations concept is something that I have not read much and it really engaged me till the end. Also, I really liked the overall story line and character sketches and the bleak town of Beckford. 

What I didn’t like in the story of Into The Water is that there came a point when I was not able to keep a track of facts and characters and trust me this book has a lot of characters!
Apart from Nel, Jules and Lena, there are multiple other characters who play a role in the build up of the suspense and the surprise factor of Into The Water.

Also, the number of bodies that went down into the Drowning Pool can also be a bit confusing as Nel Abbott was researching and writing about each and every single one of them. Another thing that didn’t go down well with me was that some of the characters only made themselves useful towards the end. Prior to that, they were just hanging around Beckford, observing and waiting patiently for their chance to speak about Nel Abbott and her death. I would also have loved to read more about Nel Abbott.

As Erin, the Detective says “Seriously: how is anyone supposed to keep track of all the bodies around here? It’s like Midsomer Murders, only with accidents and suicides and grotesque historical misogynistic drownings instead of people falling into the slurry or bashing each other over the head,”.

Into The Water may not be as awesome as Girl On The Train was, but it is scary enough, given that you can keep up with the constant inflow of new characters and deaths. It is a good read and something that you should pick up. 

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