PanThe GuardianIt displays both narrative flair and compelling forward motion – which explains why Hollywood is already developing it for the big screen – but I struggled to accept either the set-up or the characters who carry it to its all-too-predictable conclusion … The story unfolds via a string of improbable twists that failed to shock or surprise, mostly because I struggled to engage with any of the characters. Their behaviour seems to come from the convoluted needs of the plot rather than from any understanding of what motivates people, and often seems unlikely to the point of perversity. Too many of them are also stock characters who are almost cartoonish in their qualities.
PanThe GuardianIt’s a set-up that is redolent with possibility. But that promising start fails to deliver, and the main reason is structural. The story of Into the Water is carried by 11 narrative voices. To differentiate 11 separate voices within a single story is a fiendishly difficult thing. And these characters are so similar in tone and register – even when some are in first person and others in third – that they are almost impossible to tell apart, which ends up being both monotonous and confusing ... The second novel is a notorious challenge to a writer. Hawkins had a mountain to climb after the success of The Girl on the Train and no doubt the sales of her second thriller will be massive. I suspect her readers’ enjoyment may be less so.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewI can’t help thinking that authors like Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott and Paula Hawkins have learned a thing or two from such foremothers. Like their predecessors, these contemporary writers are all the more unsettling because they hit just close enough to home to infect us with personal anxiety. The question is whether their works will stand the test of time as well as Sarah Weinman’s irresistible octet of suspense and surprise.