Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins was the book selected by my blog followers as my Book Bucket read for January 2018. Each month, I hold a poll where you can pick from 12 books I want to read, rotating a new one in and out each month. I was excited to read this one, but hadn’t read Girl on the Train before, so Hawkins is a new author for me. I enjoyed the book a great deal, despite a few areas that didn’t quite work for me, but I’d still recommend it to others as a strong thriller and suspense novel.

The novel focuses on a small town in England, following a core set of about 10 characters. Chapters alternate to provide the history and perspective of multiple deaths by drowning in a local river. It all begins with the death of a suspected witch from several hundred years earlier, culminating with a few deaths in modern times that could be suicide, accidental or murder. As each character shares parts of the story, readers learn what truly happened to each victim.

Ignoring the historical murders, the current day plot is intricate. Several teenagers fight to be popular or earn respect while in high school. Sisters struggle to accept their differences with one another. Parents and children argue about parenting styles. Families are broken by affairs. Police detectives walk a fine line of doing the right versus the wrong thing. Each of the stories are weaved together in a way you can’t help but want to know all the connections. And there is, of course a ‘surprise’ twist in the end… which for many readers, probably won’t be a surprise.

I’m primarily a plot reader, followed closely by character. The plot is definitely strong; however, at least 50% of the characters have some flaws or issues in how they were written. Keeping characters in the grey zone is important within a suspense novel; readers need to know that they might be missing part of the picture, but in the end, it should be clearer than it was in this book. For 3 characters, I felt like the actions didn’t quite match what we’d come to expect from the personalities we’d gotten to know – and it wasn’t due to the grey area. It felt like a totally new character had replaced the ones we’d spent attaching ourselves to. If there are connections we just failed to see because of how good the writing is, then I am OK with it. But if it feels disconnected, then I think the book fails a bit. That’s what I felt happened here… what started out as a 4.5 rating began going south as parts of the plot unraveled. It was clear the entire way that something wasn’t right with a certain character, yet the twist in the end doesn’t do any justice to ‘why’ certain things happened.

All that said… as I kept turning the page, my interest was held and I liked many aspects of the book. I lowered my rating by 1 star because of how it seemed to fall apart in the end… ending somewhere between a 3.5 and a 3.75, rounded up to a 4 in the rating. I’ll keep reading Hawkins’ novels, but if another has a similar downturn, I might not stick with it.



Thanks for picking this one for my January Bucket List! I was glad to read it.


About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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    • It’s a decent read. But in terms of totally controlled and shocking thrillers, no, it’s not very high on my list. I’m not even sure I liked many of the characters to root for them. Tread lightly but definitely read before you see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review, Jay. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts. Like you, I loved the plot. Honestly, It’s been so long since I’ve read the book, that I can’t remember the characters or if I did or didn’t like them. Ha! I’ll just nod and agree with you there 😉 Just kidding. I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t have the same excitement with it as I did with Girl on the Train, maybe the characters were the reason for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the insightful review. I think the content interests me, but I can also see how those three characters’ actions didn’t match their personalities would be a bit of a turn-off; I think for me, too. It’s bad that the twist in the end wasn’t satisfying, but it’s good to hear the plot was strong. If the plot is strong, then I might be able to “overlook” these flaws while reading, but then would probably have similar thoughts as you when I would finish. For now, I will put this on my TBR list, but it won’t be number one yet.

    Thank you, again, for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really liked the author’s first book but I was a bit hesitant to read this one because of the mixed reviews. The character development seems a bit off but I like the fact that this was still a good read for you. Hopefully, I will get a chance to read this year. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

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