Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Title: The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Release date: June 30th 2016
Pages: 352
Genre: mystery/psychological thriller
Source: Gift from publisher
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This was meant to be the perfect trip.
The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.
A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.
Except things don’t go as planned.
Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.
Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that her sleep problems might be driving her mad or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness...
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I've been really into mysteries and psychological thrillers lately, and The Woman in Cabin 10 sounded like a great read, with the fear-inducing setting of the enclosed space of a cruise ship, a heroine with a dynamic backstory, and a psychologically complex murder story. But unfortunately, I found myself very disappointed by the execution of the novel: it just wasn't as gripping, suspenseful, or well-crafted as I had hoped.

I started out liking Lo and enjoying her story. I felt for her during the break-in, and I wanted to keep getting to know her throughout the novel. But I quickly grew bored with her character. The characterization became very repetitive, focusing on her anxiety and her drinking and not much else. None of the other characters are fully developed, and I couldn't really keep track of them, making it hard for me to really care what happened to any of them or to figure out who was a potential suspect.

The mystery was what I found myself most disappointed by in The Woman in Cabin 10. Like I said, I loved the set-up of the cruise ship and the woman in the cabin disappearing without anyone else noticing. But the development of the mystery is very mediocre. You find out who the murderer is relatively early on, and it's a very convoluted scheme - which I liked - but I wanted more shocking twists afterwards, some kind of suspenseful confrontation with the murderer, more connections to previous clues, and we don't get any of that. We find out what happened basically just through Lo's thought process, and I wanted more actual plot twists and, well, just more of a plot, really. I never had that edge-of-my-seat, can't-turn-the-pages-fast enough feeling that I love about mysteries.

To be honest, the writing just wasn't strong enough to keep me interested. The narration is very heavy on description, light on dialogue, and the descriptions are repetitive at that, which bored me. The pacing is too slow for a successful mystery, in my opinion - honestly, the book could have probably been half as long because of its simple and straightforward plot, if it weren't for the lengthy descriptions. One element I did really enjoy were the newspaper clippings, emails, etc. in between sections; these heightened the suspense and worked as ominous foreshadowing for what was to come for Lo.

The Woman in Cabin 10 had a ton of potential but unfortunately fell flat for me. With a disappointing mystery that lacks suspense and plot twists and a rather slow pace, The Woman in Cabin 10 just wasn't a book that really gripped me as a reader. If you're more interested in the character development aspect and the setting of the cruise ship, this book might work better for you, but if you're in it for the suspense and thrill, like me, I wouldn't recommend The Woman in Cabin 10.


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