Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review: THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware

Rating: 3/5 stars

I am fairly new to the mystery/thriller genre and, likewise, new to Ruth Ware. And I was slightly . . . underwhelmed by this story.

The story is that Laura is a journalist on a very small cruise ship, and one night she thinks she witnesses someone being thrown overboard. A few hours prior, she also meets a girl who she can never seem to find again. Convinced these two events are connected, she goes on a hunt around the ship looking for evidence that what she saw really happened and looking for the girl.

The beginning was really slow. The first 80 or so pages seemed to be only background and pretext before Laura boarded the cruise ship, and I found it to be rather uninteresting. This definitely doesn’t start out as fast-paced as all the reviews made it out to be. Nevertheless, I continued reading.

As a whole, the story as a whole didn’t pick up for me or get interesting until chapter 22. That’s when I sat up straighter in my chair and suddenly became invested in what was happening with the plot. But even after things started to get good in chapter 22, and I finally thought I was past the slow stuff, then there were like 15 pages in a row with no dialogue during a rather intense scene and I was just dying while waiting for something to finally happen again.

At the end of each section, there’s a snippet of email, text, news, etc. that occurs a few days in the future, and this was my favorite part of the book because it really built the suspense for the story. I would read it and then be instantly curious how the situation ended up there in a few days’ time. However, I will say that it did give me details that led me to guess events, so I guess you could say these futuristic snippets contained spoilers for the story.

Even though I didn’t guess the main mystery surrounding the woman who was in cabin ten, I found a lot of minor details to be predictable, such as evidence going missing, Lo making certain decisions, why the woman was on the boat, etc. And even the ultimate end seemed rather predictable to me, especially since one of the characters literally tells Lo everything that’s happening when there’s still more than 60 pages left of the book. She tells Lo the who, the why, and the how. All of the answers I wanted were given in the span of a couple of pages. It felt cheap because I didn’t even get to solve the mystery myself as a reader because all the details were just spewed in my face. I kept hoping that there would be some big twist after that, that the information we got was wrong, but the rest of the book just kind of happens as expected with nothing left to solve, and I was left feeling disappointed that there wasn’t more of a mystery.

The very ending, as in the detail that we learn on the very last page, was already something I suspected from the beginning. I didn’t understand the fate assigned to a certain character because it was as if the book was trying to tell me that 1+1=3. The ending as a whole seemed to have a disconnect from the rest of the story, and I just thought it felt way too rushed and sloppy, especially in contrast to the meticulously slow beginning. [SPOILERS IN ITALICS: We knew that Anne died a while back, so when we first learned that a body had washed ashore, I thought it was hers. Then we find out there’s a second body and Richard was dead, so his was the second body. Then Lo just assumes the first body was Carrie’s, but like did she forget that Anne had been dead this whole time? That made no sense to me, and there was no basis for thinking that Carrie was dead; she pulled that assumption out of thin air. Was the author trying to get me to believe that Anne’s body just got lost at sea? I have no idea, but I never thought that Carrie died. It sounded to me like she killed Richard. So when the end reveals an anonymous donation from “Tiggers bounce,” it’s clear that’s from Carrie because of the conversation she and Lo had prior. Was I supposed to be shocked that Carrie is still alive? Because I wasn’t. All I felt was not confused anymore that there were only two bodies if Lo claimed three people had died. Also, something else that really bothered me was that Carrie appeared in Archer’s phone as Jess and that was never addressed again. Who is Jess? Was that actually Carrie? Why was this important detail completely forgotten?]

Even though I haven’t read any similar books, the plot did not feel original to me. I don’t know specifically what, but something was just off about this book. I wanted to love it, but I ended up merely liking it; I wouldn’t reread it or necessarily recommend it. I guess I was expecting a fast-paced thriller, but I felt only slightly amused, not thrilled, with this slow-paced plot.

I think Ware’s writing is engaging for the most part, and the book was a quicker read than I expected it to be. She kept me interested in the small details of what was happening, even if I wasn’t overly interested in the plot. Even for the first half of the book that was pretty slow, I never really felt like I wanted to put the book down; I wanted to keep learning details to uncover the mystery, even when many pages would go by with no new information. Something I saw her do in The Woman in Cabin 10 that I thought was quality mystery writing was to address many of the speculations that readers might be thinking. To give an unrelated example, in a horror film when the little girl walks toward the scary sound down the dark hall and the whole audience is shouting at her to turn back. I didn’t feel like this book was like that. Instead, the main character, Laura, would question everybody and everything, even to the point of asking obscure questions that I never guessed she would have thought of. I really appreciate when authors actually write their characters with common sense like this, and this applies to any genre.

Even though I didn’t love this book, I want to give Ruth Wade another chance. I’ve heard that The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a much different style and a better mystery overall than The Woman in Cabin 10, so I might read that one by her next. I also want to try out other mystery authors and discover whose styles I prefer the most because I am definitely interested in delving deeper into this genre.

Overall, I had a good time while reading this book, but I don’t think it was anything special. The story didn’t keep me hooked enough to read the whole book in a day or stay up late to fit in another chapter. I was hoping for a thriller that grabbed onto me and wouldn’t let me go until I reached the last page, and unfortunately, that was not this book.

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