Book Review

The Woman In Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10

  • Author: Ruth Ware
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2016
  • Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio

CONTENT WARNING: mention of cancer and chemotherapy, unwanted sexual advance, alcohol use, anxiety/panic attacks, vomit, murder, blood

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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 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 witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers 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.

I read this one as an audiobook, so I wanted to touch on the narrator, Imogen Church. She did a great job as Lo, conveying her growing sense of frustration and panic. There was definitely a challenge with narrating this book, since there were a variety of accents. The Brooklyn accent definitely could have used some work — it sounded forced and not quite right, and this is spoken as a native New Yorker who grew up with Brooklyn accents surrounding me.

The story held my attention, and was fairly fast paced, but it didn’t blow me away. It was a solid 3 star read. Good to fill some time, but not one that stands out to me. The writing had a quality that made it flow well, and I got caught up in the story, even as it grew more and more unbelievable. The vast majority of the story didn’t feel realistic at all. While many of the plot twists blindsided me, the last one was a twist that I saw coming a mile away. 

Lo’s character was a complex one. She didn’t have a lot of redeeming characteristics — she’s whiny, drinks way too much, often relies on someone else to bail her out of situations, and makes horrible decisions. In addition, she’s incredibly stubborn, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when combined with all of her other character traits, doesn’t make a great combination. The story was told through Lo’s POV, but also interspersed snippets of news and social media. This made me question whether Lo was even a reliable narrator, since the accounts seemed to be conflicting at times. It kept me off-balance, so I didn’t know what was actually happening. 

The book addressed the stigma surrounding mental health. Lo takes antidepressant medication to manage anxiety that she has struggled with since her teen years. I absolutely LOVED the way that it didn’t portray medication as a quick fix OR a cop-out. Lo clearly discussed how her medication corrected a chemical imbalance, and the way that she practiced coping skills to manage her anxiety. However, the simple fact that she takes medication puts her reliability into question more than once. Although … her excessive drinking didn’t help her believability. I’m not sure why heavy drinking has become standard in this genre, but it seems to play a role in a lot of books featuring female characters. 

The story did impart a claustrophobic vibe. After reading this, I don’t know that I’d ever be able to consider another cruise as a viable vacation option. 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 8

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