Book Number One: Into the Water
Welcome to our first virtual book club meeting! Book number one is “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins, which is a psychological thriller. This is Hawkins’ second book, her debut novel was “Girl on the Train”which landed on the New York Times best seller list. I’ve been excited to see what she would write next!
I’d like to write this review without giving away any spoilers or having it sound like a book report. Actually, this time I won’t even tell you what the story is about. This novel was written like an onion, many layers to peel away, each layer revealing more of the story. To give you a story line would rob you of the way this story is to be read.
The story is told in three parts and by eleven narrators. Yes, I said eleven! I’d like to pat myself on the back and say that I had no trouble following the narrators, but I’d be lying. By chapter three, I was already flipping back to the beginning to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It was like I was back in college again flipping back and forth through my notes. I’d like to say that my confusion stopped shortly after the beginning of the book but unfortunately, I could never remember which story line went with which narration.
Now you may wonder “maybe this chick can’t follow a story line” but in my defense, I’ve read “Gone with the Wind” with it’s many characters and was on top of who was who the entire time. So what is the difference? The characters in “Into the Water” are not well rounded. I’m guessing this was done on purpose to go along with that peel-back-the-onion format I mentioned. I think she wanted us to peel back each character. The problem is that there are names everywhere. I kept asking myself “wait who is Nel, who is Mark, who is…” The other problem is that the narrators sound so similar, there is nothing unique about the style in which they speak to you. Nothing differentiates them from one another. The only way I knew someone else began speaking was the title of the new chapter. That said, the story was strong enough to make me continue.
The story concept was unique, there are twists and turns, there are clues, there is a surprise. I love a surprise! Remember the movie Sixth Sense! That was my favorite surprise ending ever. I read “Into the Water” in three nights because I really did want to know what happened on the next page the entire way through. Each page offered a lot to the story. I did not get bored. The book is disturbing right from the beginning. I felt the need to continue on and read each page so I could know “who done it”, and not have my imagination keep me up at night! Paula Hawkins wove a tale here and that took craftsmanship. I just wish her characters were more dynamic.
How Did this Book Stack Up
I give this book a score of 3 book marks. How many do you give it?
The scale is 1-5.
- 5 – I reserve this for my favorite books (Gone with the Wind, The Glass Castle, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Desiree, Emma Brown)
- 4- This is for a fantastic read. It didn’t make it to my all time favorite but it was amazing. (Unbroken, A Man called Ove, Keeper of the Light, The Bonesetters Daughter)
- 3- It was really good and I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t say amazing.
- 2-It was good but not memorable.
- 1- How was this published.
I was asked to rate this book for age appropriateness. I would say that this book should be for mature audiences. Topics discussed in the book are suicide, murder, rape, fornication, and adultery.
As always when I finish a book that I enjoy, I like to know more about the authors writing process. I found this short video on exactly that. Take a look. This video comes from WHSmith.
I also found out that the book will be turned into a movie! Here is an article with more info on that! I love reading a book that will become a movie. I love casting the roles in my mind. Lets do that together!
Who Would you Cast in the Movie!
Ok! Let’s play my favorite book discussion game! If you were turning this book into a movie, who would you cast?
Here are my picks!
Jules Abbott- Diane Lane
Nel Abbott- Nicole Kidman
Lena Abbott- This one could be played by any of these three really well. Kristen Stewart, Emma Watson, or Emma Stone.
Katie Whittaker- Jennifer Lawrence
Book Club Discussion Questions
Here are some discussion questions for you that I pulled from the Paula Hawkins website. I’ve answered them and you can to in the comment area.
1. Family relationships, particularly the bond between sisters, featured heavily in “Into the Water”. How do you think Lena is affected by Nel and Jules’s estrangement? How does it influence her friendship with Katie?
Well, she certainly has a grudge against her aunt and who could blame her. Am I missing something here? I don’t see it influencing her friendship at all.
2. Jules and Nel’s estrangement hinges on a misremembering of an event in their past. Are there any childhood or teenage memories you have that are no longer as clear when you look back now? How has this novel made you view your past, and the way it reflects upon your present?
There are plenty memories that are foggy now. This book was fun to read but it wasn’t the type of book that made me reflect on my own life. I am sure I am a product of my memories.
3. Within the novel, there are several inappropriate relationships — for example, Katie and Mark; Sean and Nel; Helen and Patrick. How does the depiction of the relationships between these characters affect your interpretation of their behavior and actions?
The relationships were secretive so that created layers of deceit. The relationships created problems that the characters didn’t know how to resolve.
4. “Beckford is not a suicide spot. Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women.” Discuss the gender dynamic in “Into the Water”. How much power does each of the women in the novel hold? What are the different types of power they hold?
Power? I didn’t view any of these woman as powerful.
5. “Into the Water” contains several different voices and perspectives. How did this structure affect your reading of the novel?
I enjoyed hearing the story told from different perspectives. The characters had to be more well rounded however. The similar voices were very confusing.
6. How do the epigraphs relate to the novel? Does one speak to you more than another? If so, why?
The epigraphs? Since there aren’t any quotes at the beginning of any chapters, I’m assuming you mean the parts of the manuscripts that were written. I really didn’t get much out of them.
7. The structure of the novel means that we get tremendous insight into our suspects throughout. Who did you originally think was responsible for Nel’s death? Did your opinion change as the plot developed?
I suspected Lena, then Mark, then Helen , but only because the book pointed that way which made me suspect that it wasn’t going to end that way.
8. Was there a particular character you identified with? Was there a particular moment you found moving, surprising, or terrifying?
The only character I had a moment of identification with was Jules, when she was talking about her love of reading and wanting a close circle of friends. I love reading and love my friends. I think Jules would have been a part of a virtual book club. It was also that moment that I found most cringe worthy. That poor girl being humiliated in her bathing suit.
9. Many of the characters in the novel are grieving — some from more recent, raw losses and others from historic ones. How sympathetic were you to these characters? Was there a character you felt more sympathy for than another? Does their grief excuse their behavior?
I felt for the mother who lost her child, for the child that lost her mother, for Jules who never had lived due to all the incorrect perceptions. Grief never excuses behavior but it helps us understand motivation.
10. Nickie Sage represents the legacy of witches that haunts the novel. Do you believe she sees things others cannot? Do you agree with the way she behaves?
This is a great example of how a character wasn’t rounded out. The author alludes to Nickie hearing voices and that even Jules can speak to the dead. However, it’s never really clear that this is happening in their reality.
OK Book Club! It’s your turn! Did you read the book yet? Whenever you do, leave your comments, or any other thoughts you want to share! Lets discuss! It can be today, next week, a month or a year! Just have fun reading and sharing your thoughts!