Book: The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Summary: In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests arrive jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo's stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo hears what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers and crew members remain accounted for - and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo's desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.... With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10 - one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned. - Simon & Schuster, 2016.
I had really high expectations for this book. I really did. The Agatha Christie reference, the setting, and the set-up all drew me in. I was ready to enjoy this book to its fullest. Unfortunately, I only mildly found it interesting. It seems as if alcoholic female protagonists are all the rage right now in thrillers - unfortunately, it doesn't make for very good stories.
As always spoilers will be kept to a minimum.
While I was typing out the book summary, I realized that the summary is not very truthful. Would I say it's reminiscent of Agatha Christie? Hardly. Maybe a very scarce skeleton of an Agatha Christie story. Lo writes for a travel magazine, but she's not established as a pro - she's trying to make it big. Hardly any of her background is given and what little background is given isn't given until near the end of the story. You're only told in very little exposition. The stay is nothing but pleasant? Considering Jo is clearly a traumatized alcoholic and she displays a distaste for the opulence and grandeur of the ship that Karl Marx would admire, even the reader doesn't get to enjoy the richness of Lo's surroundings. The reader is just as miserable as Lo is.
The story as a whole isn't as slow as, say, Girl on a Train, but it's not fast-paced either. The pace isn't bad. For being on a ship for a week, it works out fine. I would only say that Ware spends more time on developing Lo than on the mystery so the attention between the mystery and the main character isn't balanced. There were times where I even questioned why Lo was so trying to solve this "mystery", considering she barely knew the supposed victim.
As for the ending, Ware takes a road that is very highly suspect because it all rests on the choice of a single person. The chances of the ending being anything but what it actually was were extremely high, so the fact that they didn't happen because of the reason Ware gave is a tad unrealistic. The villain is so underdeveloped that the reader can only accept that they're evil based on the fact that Lo says they are.
I'd say the thing that the book suffers from the most is that too much time is spent on an event that happens within the first chapter of the book that affects Lo for the remainder of the story. Too much time is spent on Lo's "recovery" of the event psychologically so that the main mystery suffers from severe lack of development. Lo works as a quasi-unreliable narrator only because she's an alcoholic. Whatever happened to the unreliable narrator who is unreliable because he/she is untrustworthy or a sociopath? Alcoholism can't be the flaw for the protagonist every single time. It's getting to the point where it's not edgy anymore - it's lazy.
Overall, the story is a fine enough summer read. I wouldn't give it high praise, but it's not awful either.
I give The Woman in Cabin 10 a B.
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