Review: Ruth Ware's novels are suspenseful page-turners but could use more surprise

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Left: Ruth Ware's "The Woman in Cabin 10" 

Right: Ruth Ware's "In a Dark, Dark Wood"

Suspense, mystery, shock and deception.

These elements certainly help define English author Ruth Ware’s psychological crime/thriller novels. Her first two books, "In a Dark, Dark, Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10," are bestsellers that have received praise from Entertainment Weekly and Marie Claire magazine. Both novels have also been featured on multiple publications' reading lists, and I had to see what the hype was about. I found that Ware’s two novels are packed with suspense and entertainment, but they had their faults as well.

"In a Dark, Dark Wood" is the story of a bachelorette party gone south. The story’s protagonist, Nora, is invited to a bachelorette weekend for a woman whom Nora hasn’t seen in 10 years. Nora wasn’t even invited to the actual wedding. When Nora decides to attend the bachelorette weekend, odd happenings begin to occur. By the end, the party goes very, very wrong.

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The cover of this novel suggests that "In a Dark, Dark Wood" is a horror story. I found the novel to be suspenseful and thrilling, but hardly scary. The preface is a Halloween-type short story that had nothing to do with the novel at all. It seemed like Ware wanted to write a horror story, but changed her mind halfway through. I would put this story in the crime/mystery category.

This book is a page-turner. I finished it in a little over a day. The narrator held back a lot of information, so I was forced to keep reading to find out more. Unfortunately, the information held was more built up than it had to be. The narrator made it seem like the reasons behind Nora and the bride not speaking were more complicated than they actually were. This was the same case with the backstory behind the potential groom.

Toward the end of the book, the bachelorette party shatters. Parts of the ending are shown throughout the book, and the scenes are seemingly horrific. When the reader finds out what happened, it is a bit of a letdown. There was some predictability, and the ending was too hyped up for what it actually was.

"The Woman in Cabin 10" is not as suspenseful as "In a Dark, Dark Wood." That being said, I wasn’t as disappointed by the ending. The end was far more shocking than "In a Dark, Dark Wood," so Ware must’ve worked with her criticism. The novel revolves around Lo Blacklock, a journalist who embarks on a luxury cruise. The trip is set up for journalists to review and critique the cruise. Similar to "In a Dark, Dark Wood," strange occurrences soon begin to happen.

For this novel, I had little idea to the reasoning behind Lo’s cruise sabotage, which allowed for a bigger surprise in the end. "The Woman in Cabin 10" took me longer to read than "In a Dark, Dark Wood," because I didn’t find it as suspenseful— until the ending. That being said, this short novel is still a quick read for individuals who become invested in the story.

I would recommend Ware’s novels to anyone who loves psychological thrillers or mysteries. I personally am a fan of those genres, so I couldn’t help but appreciate these books. For those who grow easily annoyed with characters, these books are probably not the best to read. The main characters of both novels could seem both juvenile and negative.

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Readers who enjoy suspense should definitely purchase "In a Dark, Dark Wood," but this novel isn’t satisfying for those who catch predictability— however, they would certainly enjoy "The Woman in Cabin 10" for its elements of surprise.

Some people enjoy watching movies over reading, so luckily "In a Dark, Dark Wood" will soon be hitting the big screen. Reese Witherspoon is set to take on developing the film.

For individuals who prefer to read, I would recommend giving Ruth Ware’s books a try. See if their particular downfalls are bothersome or unnoticeable. Despite my critiques, I enjoyed reading these novels for an easy read. These books can feasibly be read by busy students with little time on their hands. Why not immerse yourself in a story?


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