December 2, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Drowning By T.J. Newman Made Me Want To Drown

Drowning By T.J. Newman- Summary

Drowning by T.J. Newman Goodreads Summary (Salty review below- no spoilers): Flight attendant turned New York Times bestselling author T. J. Newman—whose first book Falling was an instant #1 national bestseller and the biggest thriller debut of 2021—returns for her second book, an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a commercial jetliner that crashes into the ocean, and sinks to the bottom with passengers trapped inside, and the extraordinary rescue operation to save them.

Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashed 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.

Drowning By T.J. Newman- Salty Review Disclaimer

Please pass the salt.

T.J. NewmanShould I do the regular preamble? I don’t go salty that often, but I have. Over five years, there is, The Guest List, All The Stars, And Teeth, The Paris Apartment, You Are Not Alone, Verify, With My Little Eye, and the latest was How I’ll Kill You. Over the course of five years and 600+ posts, that really isn’t a lot. At all. And on many of them, I was the lone wolf. Welp. Welcome back to the corner of the lone wolf because, holy crap, how this book made me want to drown myself in the Mississippi (I can see it from my patio).

Drowning By T.J. Newman- Review

Here’s what I don’t understand about T.J. Newman’s Drowning. You take a plane, and you put it in the ocean. How do you lose the thriller in that scenario? Obviously, T.J. Newman has the technical experience, and it shows. In the beginning, Drowning throws you into a state of terror with the passengers. It is chaotic and fast-paced.

So what’s the problem? Glad you asked. There are a lot of them. It isn’t long after that first gasp of terror that Drowning is slowly taken over by badly executed characters, trite dialogue, and wasted opportunities for further suspense. For instance, there is CO2 poisoning. It is never fully explained, but you will (unless you already know what it is, of course) get the basic concept. When one passenger starts to suffer from CO2 poisoning, it is executed… oddly. Again, I don’t doubt T.J. Newman’s knowledge of how CO2 affects someone. But it still could have been done in a way that created claustrophobia and gave a sense of dread. Severe dread. That didn’t happen. Instead, it was straight-out silly. No matter how CO2 affects someone, it doesn’t have to be written in such a silly, laughable way. Plus, it went SO fast. And why only one character?

That is just one example. I don’t want to spoil T.J. Newman’s Drowning.


Thank you to Libro for an advanced copy of Drowning by T.J. Newman, which will be released on May 30th.

Here’s another problem with T.J. Newman’s Drowning. The subplots and emotions were so stale and cliched. It was like watching Jurassic Park… like the last Jurassic Park. First, there is the couple that divorces over tragedy, being brought back together by tragedy. Truthfully, not only is it cliched (which I could handle if it were executed better), but it isn’t even needed. Drowning is a thriller about a plane trapped in the ocean. You don’t need these emotional side plots. By forcing them (well, it felt forced), so much of the suspense is lost. Just lost.

Drowning By T.J. Newman- Characters

Can I go puke before I write this section? Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t an older married couple react differently to being trapped in a plane than a middle-aged Engineer, who would act differently than, I don’t know, THE CAPTAIN OF THE FUCKING FLIGHT?

And maybe they were meant to act differently. It is hard to tell because there was so little character development. Don’t get me wrong, much like I said about the emotional subplots, I wouldn’t expect great character arcs. It isn’t needed in a book with Drowning’s premise and structure. Speaking of the structure, it was chaotic but in a bad way. Ok. Back to the characters. I couldn’t tell any of the characters written by T.J. Newman apart. Well, except the 12-year-old, I suppose. But that is the only one.

Drowning By T.J. Newman- Final Thoughts

I don’t have any. Oh, ok. I haven’t read T.J. Newman’s first book, Falling, so I can’t speak to it or speak to a comparison of Falling to Drowning. However, I do know that I’m the lone wolf on this one. That’s ok. I’ve handled it before, and I’ll handle it again.

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