AUTHOR: T.J Newman
PUBLISHER: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
PUBLICATION DATE: May 30, 2023
TWs: death of child, death by various causes
NARRATORS: Steven Weber, Laura Benanti
12 lives are at risk when a plane plummets into the ocean shortly after taking off from Hawaii. Drowning by T.J Newman is an emotionally gripping and high-paced thriller that takes us on a journey as these survivors fight for their lives while those on the surface race against time to rescue them. Despite the odds against them, the characters in this novel display remarkable courage and resilience in the face of danger. Drowning is an absolute must-read for readers who enjoy suspenseful stories that will keep them on the edge of their seats.
Before picking up this book, I was going through a reading slump where every romance book I picked up ended up as a DNF (Did Not Finish). So, I switched genres and started listening to Drowning on Audible. And, I must say, this book lives up to the hype on Bookstagram. I can see this being a big blockbuster hit if made into a movie – and according to the internet, Warner Bros won the bidding war for the film rights. I can’t wait!
Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors—but it’s too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside.
More than two hundred feet below the surface, engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter Shannon are waist-deep in water and fighting for their lives.
Their only chance at survival is an elite rescue team on the surface led by professional diver Chris Kent—Shannon’s mother and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife—who must work together with Will to find a way to save their daughter and rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff.
There’s not much time.
There’s even less air.
With devastating emotional power and heart-stopping suspense, Drowning is an unforgettable thriller about a family’s desperate fight to save themselves and the people trapped with them—against impossible odds.
Let’s take a look at our list of survivors:
- Ira and Ruth – The old couple
- Bernadette – Nurse
- Jasmine – Life vest woman
- Andy – Blue polo douchy guy
- Will – Male MC
- Shannon – Will’s daughter
- Ryan – Newlywed widow
- Maia – Unaccompanied minor
- Kit, Kaholo, and Molly – Flight crew
Through these 12 survivors, Newman takes us through complex human emotions like grief and loss tenderly without sacrificing the adrenaline. Some of the characters are a bit one-dimensional, but because these were mainly side characters, I didn’t mind. The main characters had enough emotional backstories to keep me interested.
From the very first page, Drowning plunges you into the heart of the action without a moment’s respite. It opens with the failure of the plane’s engine, instantly drawing you into the story. This immediate immersion is what truly captivated me. The pacing remains nerve-wracking and emotionally charged throughout the book, keeping you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
There are a few predictable moments and those that are hard to believe. But it didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the audiobook experience for me.
The ending is where I have an issue. The penultimate chapter was heartbreaking and left me emotionally gutted, and it would have been an even more fantastic book had the author ended it with that. But then, in the last chapter, it was like Newman said, “Haha, gotcha!”. And it made me feel played as a reader. I understand that some readers may find the twist in the ending a moment of relief, but it left me feeling a bit disappointed to put me through those emotions only to take it back.
Drowning switches between multiple perspectives, primarily using an omniscient 3rd person point of view that makes it easy to understand the whole picture. The narrative also alternates between what is happening above the surface with the rescue mission and underwater with the survivors, using dual narrators. Additionally, there are also chapters that take the reader back in time to understand the main character’s backstory. Despite these changes in POV, the book never loses its appeal, and I found it to be the perfect way to immerse myself in everything that was happening.
It’s evident that T.J Newman did her due diligence in researching aviation details for this book, leaning on her background as a flight attendant. However, as someone who doesn’t know much about this topic, I found the excessive technical jargon and acronyms to be too complex. It made it difficult for me to visualize what the author had intended, especially when the rescue operators where explaining the details of their rescue missions. While Newman occasionally used everyday objects to explain complex scientific concepts as the characters themselves tried to understand what was happening, this is not done frequently enough to help demystify the jargon.
This book was my first time experiencing these narrators, and they did an amazing job of immersing me in the story and making me feel like I was there with the survivors. I highly recommend this as an audiobook to anyone who wants to get lost in a suspenseful story.
Drowning by T.J Newman is an absolute page-turner that will keep you captivated from start to finish. I really wanted to give this one 5 stars because it got me out of a book rut, but the technical jargon and the unexpected twist at the end left me feeling disappointed. Despite that, I’m excited to see this story come to life on the big screen. Check this out if you love adrenaline fuelled survival stories.
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