Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Page Count: 386
First Sentence: "Again! Again! The men bind her again."
Book Description (from Amazon): 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.
My Thoughts: What did I just read? I, like many others, had really high hopes for this book. I do feel bad for Paula Hawkins, in a very small way. Her first book, The Girl on the Train, was such a smash success that it was unlikely that her second book would live up to the hype. But this was really far off the mark (and the reviews from Amazon agree with me too... harsh).
First off, there were sooo many narrators. There are at least 11 different narrators throughout the story, and I didn't care for one of them. (Ok, I did like one of the police officers, Erin Morgan. But mostly because she swears a lot). In true Paula Hawkins style, the characters were so very unlikable. I think that was the point (?), but it was really hard for me to actually care about solving the mystery. These characters were selfish and flat, and not well drawn out. The chapters were way too short for me to start to care about their part of the story and I found my attention wandering. I'm still not sure that I figured out one of the key plot points, and I don't necessarily care to find out.
Ok. Backing up. Our story is set in a small town where there is a spot called the Drowning Pool. Over the years, many women have drowned in this location, and the story opens with two recent deaths. The Whitaker family lost their seemingly perfect teenage daughter, Katie. The family is grieving and we find out that there's a feud between two mothers in the community. One of the mothers, Nell, drowns a year after Katie. Nell is the mother of Katie's best friend, Lena, and I guess I'd call Lena the main character. The story revolves around the drownings and Lena seems to know more than she's letting on. We are led down a veritable Russian nesting doll situation, where one person has a grudge against another person who is the mother of someones daughter's best friend and is close to this other person who seems to talk to dead people. Seriously, that's just about the gist of it.
One thing that did stick with me was the grief that Mrs. Whittaker felt losing her daughter. It's not that it was particularly well done, but it struck me to think about how that must feel to try and remember your late daughter's last day. It must be an unthinkable kind of torture filed with false memories. Jules, Nell's sister, was the goddamn worst. She walks around talking to herself and holds a twenty year grudge against her sister. She seems to have had nothing going on for her and is easily outsmarted by Lena. This was by no mean a page turner and I think we could have reduced the viewpoints by half and still have had too many.
This is a book I'd have to go back and unpack and I can't say that I care enough to be bothered. At the end, everyone seems to intertwine and play their part, as is often the case in a small town. All of the characters read the same way and most of the twists were pretty easy to figure out. I truly think the best part of this was the cover. I feel like my review is as confusing as this book was, and I apologize for that!
Favorite Quote: "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." You said it, Detective Erin Morgan. You said it.
Rating: 2.5/5 Not something that I'd recommend or pick up again. But I will read Paula Hawkins if she comes out with anything else, if only to see if lightening really can strike twice.
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