I imagine it's difficult to follow up a book like The Girl on the Train. A lot of hype. A lot of pressure. This book is very different from its predecessor, which isn't a bad thing. It's just a different reading experience than Paula Hawkins' debut.
Where TGOTT was a fast-paced, addictive narrative, largely in part to its unreliable narrator, Into the Water is more like a slow burn. There are a lot of point of view characters, and a lot of different facets to the story. Our main character, Jules, has been brought to her hometown after the death of her sister, leaving her responsible for her sister's teenage daughter. The sister's death is suspicious, particularly since there was a similar death earlier in the year. Both women died in a local spot known as the Drowning Pool, a spot that Jules's sister had a bit of an obsession with.
The heart of the story revolves around uncovering the truth behind both deaths, and the reveal is slow and not entirely satisfying. I found I was able to anticipate plot twists well in advance, so nothing truly came as a surprise. This is the opposite of TGOTT, where I knew something was coming but didn't know what, and that's what kept me turning the pages. The lack of anticipation was a bit disappointing for me.
In terms of the writing, Hawkins does an excellent job of creating atmosphere. Jules's sister's house is a creepy place, and the town itself has that eerie, open-secret feel to it. I found the characters to be intriguing, although some were under-utilized, and the reading experience was smooth enough that I continued in spite of knowing where the plot was headed.
Overall it was a good read, and if it were standing alone I would maybe think it better. But as the follow-up to TGOTT, the lack of suspense was a bit of a letdown. Four stars.