Just a little tiny bit of spoilers!
Synopsis: 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.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
Review: After reading The Girl on the Train and falling in love with it, I was extremely excited when I heard Hawkins had released a new book. However, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Now, I know I shouldn’t compare this novel to The Girl on the Train, but since these are the only two books she has published using her real name and the themes are so similar, they are bound to get compared regardless.
I really did like the premise to this novel. Nel is the latest “victim” of the river in their town. Some say she jumped, some say she was pushed, and the readers follow her somewhat troublesome daughter and sister she hasn’t spoken to in years as they try to deal with the loss and really figure out what happened to her that night. I am a huge sucker for family drama and murder mysteries, but I couldn’t even get far enough into this novel to enjoy either of those things because of how it was written.
As we know, Hawkins is great with words and has no trouble creating characters that are realistic and lively. But this book just had too many of them. I read up to page 100 in the novel and I still had trouble with understanding all the characters and how they were connected with each other (which I really shouldn’t have trouble with by page 100).
Also, I think some of the characters were not as good as they could have been. For example, one of the main characters, Jules, was consistently panicky and unreliable, lying to the police in the beginning of the novel (when she really didn’t have a reason to) and seemingly making the whole situation of her sister’s death about herself. Many of Jules’ chapters have flashbacks of Nel being a “bad” sister to Jules and then Jules kind of goes on and on about how awful Nel always was to her. I understand backstory like this is important for us as readers so that we can understand the family dynamic, but I felt like it was too drawn out and too prominent in a way that almost overtook the storyline.
I do hope that one day I have the time and patience to go through and finish the book because I think Hawkins is a great writer, but for right now I’d have to give this book only 2 stars.