Anahita Padmanabhan ‘18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Earlier this month Paula Hankins, author of the New York Times Bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train, released her latest novel Into the Water. Into the Water is a thrilling
novel about the Drowning Pool, nicknamed that by the townspeople because of the troublesome women who end up in it. This time, within the past year, two people were found in the water, one a teenager and one a single mother. The death of the single mother, Nel Abbott, becomes a full police investigation. With no real evidence of foul play, they assume she jumped; yet her daughter, Lena, ardently pushes back.
The investigation brings Nel’s estranged sister, Jules, back to Beckford, their hometown and home of the Drowning Pool. Jules is put in charge of Lena and the two struggle to communicate and to rely on each other throughout the story. Meanwhile they must also deal with the town who disliked Nel and her research into the drowned women of Beckford.
The story centers around the death of Nel, which is tied to the death of Katie, the teenager. While the story of what happened to Nel unfolds, we are given glimpses into the stories of all the characters that who were somehow connected to Nel, and we are given the stories of the women who previously died in the pool.
The novel is compelling and the story is enticing. Who are these mysterious women of Beckford who end up in the pool? What happened to them? What has happened to Nel and Katie? All these questions come up at the start of the book, and by the end they are answered. These are the questions we start with, and as the story progresses, and more characters get involved, the reader will develop more questions about what really happens in the strange town of Beckford.
The novel jumps perspectives, between Jules, Lena, the investigators of Nel’s death, other townspeople, and even from the past women of the pool. The jumpiness of the narrative can add to the feeling of unease throughout the novel, confusing the reader as to who to focus on, shrouding the reality of events. No one perspective is the most reliable, holes are poked into all their characters, and the reader is left unsure of who to trust and who to believe.
The issue with this is the breadth of characters. Each character is given a story line, and with narratives jumping between eight or nine different characters, it often gets distracting from the main plot, as we learn the general stories of many of the characters. Some feel extraneous, and others potentially aren’t given as much time to develop. So much seems tied together it can sometimes appear that the novel is doing too much.
However, Hankins does deliver an excellent book about how things are never what they seem on the surface, whether it’s relationships, motives, or even the pool. While The Girl on the Train is arguably still her best work, Into the Water should not be discounted. Even though it is a little less exciting, Into the Water is a good book with a good story, and is still worth the read.