A so-so mystery with an unreliable narrator that takes place, for the most part, on a boat. It was ok thriller, but I would never have read it without the encouragement of my book club.
In the desperate search for “the next Gone Girl“, The Woman in Cabin 10was put forward as an option. I think that’s unfair. The next Gone Girlor Hunger Games will be so clearly original and ground-breaking that it couldn’t be titled the next fill-in-the-blank.
And, with that sort of hype, it put an expectation on this story that it didn’t live up to. But, that’s not The Woman in Cabin 10‘s fault.
It was clear to me that Ruth Ware had experience as a journalist. Her character, Lo Blacklock, is completely believable in that regard. But, I found that I didn’t like her much. She puts too much pressure on herself to succeed.
“I had to get myself together before I left for this trip. It was an unmissable, unrepeatable opportunity to prove myself after ten years at the coalface of boring cut-and-paste journalism. This was my chance to show I could hack it…” pg 20.
But, if she had taken the time to stay home and recover from her PTSD, what sort of thriller would that be? So, off she goes, onto a billionaire’s exclusive boat.
“…it was pretty nice. I guess you had to get something for the eight grand or whatever it was they were charging for this place. The amount was slightly obscene, in comparison to my salary- or even Rowan’s salary.” pg 47.
Then, in classic thriller fashion, she hears a scream in the night, sees something that no one, even she, believes and is now stuck in an enclosed space with a potential killer.
Even with that set-up, I didn’t get into the story. Lo is overly-dramatic and doesn’t take the time to think things through. I found myself wishing that she would slow down and start keeping a complete written record rather than running from one disastrous encounter to the next.
“I lay there, cudgeling my battered brain to try to work it out, but the more I tried to ram the bits of information together, the more it felt like a jigsaw with too many pieces to fit the frame.” pg 242.
She jumps to conclusions and accuses or dismisses people nearly on a whim. I’d read a passage and then say to myself, “Come on, is that really the best you could do?” Now, that’s hardly fair as she’s exhausted, terrified and traumatized. But still. That’s what I thought.
Plus, the “unreliable narrator” thing has been done. In this story, Lo’s unreliable because she has anxiety and drinks a lot to forget that fact. That sounds like almost everyone I know.
Recommended for fans of mystery. It is enjoyable, but don’t make my mistake and expect too much complexity from The Woman in Cabin 10.
Thanks for reading!