The Woman In Cabin 10 revolves around a mysterious and sinister “incident” which the protagonist, Lo, is witness to. She is sure what she saw happened – or is she? She was invited on a complimentary cruise liner, to write a press article on what she thinks of it. Her journey is nothing she expected to experience.
For me, Lo is the type of character you like in fiction, but if you knew her personally, you’d probably drift apart. She’s complicated, Ware certainly made that clear, and that some of that complexity was not the character’s own doing. I liked Lo, purely because I read her as someone who was having a bad time, and I felt sympathetic toward her. Even more so toward the end of the novel, as I really began to engage with her then, and I was rooting for her. Although, throughout the book, the question of reliable narrative loomed. She certainly people watched like an avid coffee drinker out a cafe window.
The book is ensnaring from the start. I found the first few chapters really intense – in both horrific and dramatic ways. Ware certainly got the ball rolling for a page-turning and emotive read. The first 100 pages were easy and enjoyable to read, however, from then up until the 200 page mark, the book was a little sluggish and I actually felt Ware’s writing became slightly repetitive. Enough to make me think “I get the point”. Then, in the last 100 pages, the book picked up and was even more intense, than the earlier chapters. On the whole, I’d say the pace of the novel is fine but a slow-burner, and 200/300 pages were consuming until I could no longer physically keep my eyes open to read.
Honestly, to date, I’d say this was the hardest book review I’ve ever wrote. I can’t express some emotions I experienced whilst reading the book, without potentially spoiling aspects of the story. In a way, that really contributes to my overall thoughts on the book, is that it’s left me in quite a pickle to do my review.
Ware’s writing and plot structure – the book is divided into parts – successfully evoked feelings of trepidation about the novel’s ending and if Lo would survive. Overall, the setting of this novel is supposed to contribute to its thriller genre. It’s a small boat, with some corridors that have no windows and fluorescent lighting. For those with claustrophobia, this would be a living nightmare, especially because Ware goes into great detail describing surroundings/settings. I didn’t pick up on this though, and wasn’t able to appreciate this aspect of horror – perhaps because I’ve never been on a cruise, and very rarely experience claustrophobia.
Although, I did feel panicked, as Ware successfully captured fear of the idea of dropping off the face of the earth, and no one knowing (or even noticing). I really did feel fear at this point, reflecting how engaged I was with the plot. In the build to the novel’s climax, I found myself even more distressed; caring deeply about Lo and another character I didn’t expect to like. One minute I felt fury, terror, and the next I was deeply suspicious.
It was the last 100 odd pages to go, where the book picked up with the good old twists and turns. I thought I’d figured out, I really did, but not quite. I gave an audible “oh my gosh” when the reveal happened. Overall, Ware’s novel is excellent, I’m thrilled and satisfied with the story, and it’s characters. I did find myself chuckling sometimes, with the images Ware illustrated, or comic dialogue between characters. I’ve gave this book 4 stars on goodreads, which I put a lot of thought into it. I believe Ware could have developed the aftermath chapters a little better, and I wish the middle part of the book wasn’t so sluggish. However, I really liked the main character, the plot was very exciting and it is without hesitation the most worked up a mystery/thriller has gotten me. Definitely worth a read.
The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Published 19th July 2016
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense