Author: Ruth Ware
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
“I do think it’s one’s responsibility to wring every ounce of sensation out of life, don’t you? Otherwise, without that, it’s just a short, nasty, and brutal interlude until death.”
The Woman in Cabin 10 is not an unique story. In fact, it falls in place with a common pattern in the mysteries novels I’ve recently read – an alcoholic “untrustworthy” narrator. The word ‘woman’/’girl’ in the title. And the classic ‘whodunit’ where the amateur sleuth/wannabe investigative journalist narrator thinks it could be just about anyone abroad, including someone heavily linked to her past.
Now this is not to say The Woman in Cabin 10 was not enjoyable. I did not immediately guess the ending, but it was logical enough that I was able to beat Lo to the punch of why once the truth was revealed in the mystery. The ending of the story, however, felt a little more farfetched. The way Ware set up the ending after the big reveal made it almost impossible to succeed with a plausible ending that didn’t feel like it forced the readers to suspend disbelief with the characters and their actions.
My main issue with this novel, however, was that it felt bland. Ware tried too hard to make Lo describe herself as untrustworthy, to the point where the main character’s development felt inorganic. I kept waiting to see how the break in at the beginning of the novel would play into the story. In the end, I am led to believe it was to make readers sympathize with her, to feel sorry for her. Her obsession with it and how she handles it – her downward spiral – had the opposite effect on me. I kept waiting for her to rise above the adversity and to strength herself. Instead, she kept drinking herself into oblivion. Not a characteristic that resonates well with me.
While the mystery was interesting enough, it wasn’t stay-up-all-night-to-binge intense. In a flood of similar murder mysteries, The Woman in Cabin 10 gets swallowed in the waves of novels. It never reaches its peak potential of suspense, and instead titters off on drunken feet until it stumbles to sobriety at the end.