Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware


Reader, I need to warn you that I am not a fan of the contemporary mystery/thriller genre as most of the books seem generically structured and quite boring according to my tastes. However, judging by this cover and the premise of the text, I hoped that The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware would break this vicious cycle and give me something to hold on to and recommend to others. Sadly, I was very wrong.

The Woman in Cabin 10 is written from the first-person perspective of Laura Blacklock, a alcoholic journalist, who is reviewing the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise liner called the Aurora. Laura, who goes by Lo, has severe anxiety which is re-kindled by a recent home invasion that has left Lo paranoid of her surroundings. Lo's anxiety works against her creating a force of conflict between her and other individuals on the Aurora, and when she experiences a strange happening in the next door cabin (Cabin 10), Lo is left seeking answers to what happened from individuals who seem to want to provide no help to her. Lo is eventually left to her own devices as the book traces a sub-plot of telegrams, press-releases, and messages depicting and decoding her disappearance along with the mystery that shrouds the voyage of the Aurora.

The book is full of worst-case scenarios: a family who mistakenly grieves, accusations of irrationality, stuck with people who do not believe you and think you are crazy, mistaken identities, etc. So much so, that at times I felt like I was connecting my own reading experience with other books who wrote the scenarios into a more cathartic experience for their readers. By the middle of the book, I really didn't care what happened besides the desire to seek answers for the plot: did she disappear, is she still alive, etc.

Had it not been for the final third of the book, I would have left this reading experience without any attachment to the characters, setting, and plot. It took me almost a week to read this novel because I was constantly battling myself to finish it. Had it been just any writer, I would have discarded the experience in search for a better text, but Ruth Ware is well-loved in the reading community. The Woman in Cabin 10 seemed to be a quick-triggered novel to stay on peoples' shelves as an "instant New York Times bestselling thriller" (as the publisher acknowledges on the back cover of the novel).

Okay, I am not a fan, but this book may not have been written for me. I have stated that it isn't within my taste of books, and with endorsements by Reese Witherspoon, The Oprah Magazine, and Kirkus, I expected a different experience-- one that I didn't want to leave in the middle of the book-- where the characters have dimension, where the plot has an unforeseeable twist, and where I don't feel the protagonist has received her comeuppance from irrational decisions.

I would recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind an allusion to Fifty Shades (pg. 282) and to anyone who cares a lot about the recommendations of a celebrity.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

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