It can be overwhelming to pick a new book to read. I want to ensure whatever I pick is going to keep my interest, and that I’m going to be sucked in the world created, or what’s the point really. Nothing pisses me off more than when I must force myself to finish a book, so I don’t feel the time invested was a complete waste of time.
So, where am I going with this? Well, I’m still sort of on the fence about The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.
I didn’t force myself to finish it. I enjoyed the story and it had moments where I couldn’t put it down. The plot was interesting enough, but I think it left me hanging a bit. I’ve taken a cruise on a luxury boat before, so I could place myself on this ship, with its fine detail, grand staircase and elegant dining room. It promises twists and turns and murder in the middle of the ocean! So promising…
I think where I felt the disconnect was with the main character. Laura (Lo) Blacklock is not likeable. She is sort of dull. You know, in a heavy drinking, anxiety-ridden, pill-popping, she thinks she just witnessed a murder sort of dull.
It started out promising, Lo is woken from a drunken sleep thinking that somebody was in her apartment. After she is attacked, she falls into the fog of more drinking and fear of falling asleep, which is never a good combination. Add to that, she’s about to embark on this assignment to cover the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise, the Aurora Borealis. A move that could change her career. She knows the importance of this job; she’s wanted it for so long. It is so important she doesn’t even read the press pack.
Because she can’t find the clarity through the fear of the break-in of her apartment.
Yet somehow she finds herself on the ship with some of the most well-to-do of the travel industry, including her reporter ex-boyfriend Ben. On her very first night, through the fog of a bit too much to drink, her anxiety medication and lack of sleep, she meets a woman in Cabin 10 (the cabin next to hers) when she knocks on the door to borrow mascara (that was stolen in the break-in).
Can we pause for a moment to ask who only has one mascara?! But I digress…
After the inaugural dinner on the ship, and again – too much to drink, Lo finally passes out only to be woken in the middle of the night by screams. She then witnesses a woman being thrown overboard in the cold, dark sea below.
Or at least she thinks she saw that.
What follows is a series of events that left me asking, why would you do that? Who would do that? Lo is forced to prove that there was a woman in Cabin 10 and that she isn’t an alcoholic, pill-popping maniac who’s in over her head.
Ware knows how to write a compelling character. I enjoyed Ben’s character, and the tit-for-tat between him and Lo. I thought Judah, her boyfriend, was sweet and would have liked to learn more of their relationship. I thought Cole and Richard Bullmer were intriguing.
The author also did a successful job of creating the cramped, claustrophobic atmosphere of Lo’s time on the boat. A time that is spent mostly confused, and doubting herself. There were times where I considered this entire thing was just a dream and would have been really upset if that turned out to be the case.
I just think that the details of Lo’s actions were glossed over and rushed through. There was a captivating story here. Did she hallucinate seeing this girl? Was somebody trying to cover something up? What really happened? All these questions were valid, and she was stuck out in the middle of the ocean, with no cell phone service, seemingly alone and trying to piece it altogether while constantly fighting exhaustion through a drunken haze of confusion.
And I thought things started to pick up again when she went to meet with Bullmer while he was entertaining other guests in the hot tub. Questions were raised, and things started to get interesting. I think it was from this point that the book took a turn for the better.
It was this last quarter of the book (or less) that I flew threw. It was interesting, how the events turned so quickly and thought Ware did a good job of capturing the fear and relationship between Carrie and Lo. It was these final chapters that saved this book, although one could say there were too many twists and turns. The detail of Lo’s ordeal was taking its toll, but it was engrossing. I actually felt empathy for her and thought the tension created was palpable.
In the end, I didn’t hate the book. It was engaging and left me wondering whodunit, however Ware needs to ensure her protagonist is more likeable in the future. Or at least if she’s not meant to be likeable, make me feel more than just meh…. Or I’m not sure I’d read another one of her books.