Featured Review: ‘Drowning’ by T.J Newman


T.J. Newman is back with another blockbuster, proving that Falling, her lights-out debut, was no fluke, but just the beginning of what should be a long, stellar career.

Newman opens her highly-anticipated sophomore novel with a riveting sequence that shows Flight 1421 crash into the Pacific Ocean just off of Hawaii. Captured from the perspectives of various passengers, both pilots and the lead flight attendant, Newman takes readers from the cockpit to the back seats, where a sleeping father wakes up just in time to see the plane’s engines explode. Nine seconds after crashing violently into the cold ocean, the plane—still in one piece—comes to a rest. The passengers who survived the free fall and impact believe the worst is over, and are grateful to be alive.

Little do they know, the worst is yet to come.

As the engines explode, throwing fire and shrapnel in every direction, the passengers panic. The ones who made it out of the plane and into the water are unsure of what to do, while the ones still inside rush to exit the sinking aircraft. Will Kent, an engineer and single father, realizes that many who made it off the plane are in grave danger, and quickly decides they’re better off inside, where they can safety wait for help to arrive. “When you ditch, you evacuate. Period,” the pilot says, though everyone still onboard acknowledges that there’s no protocol for their exact situation. Knowing that one wrong move means certain death, Willwho is onboard with his daughter, Shannontrusts his instincts and, knowing the plane should float, convinces the pilot and remaining 12 members of Flight 1421 to close the escape door and wait it out. But as the cockpit glass is suddenly blown out by rushing water, forcing everyone to act quickly in order to shut the heavy, Kevlar-lined door, Will realizes that his plan, though it has kept them alive for the moment, may have sealed their fate, dooming them all.

As the story unfolds, Newman swaps between the members still on the sinking plane to those furiously mounting a rescue operation, a crew that just so happens to include Chris Kent, Shannon’s mother and Will’s ex-wife. With time and oxygen rapidly running out, every second matters, and Newmanwho never wastes a single wordknows just how to keep readers on the edge of their seats, gasping for air as she delivers a stunning final act that won’t soon be forgotten.

New York Times bestselling author Don Winslow said Drowning “Reads like Apollo 13 underwater,” and I couldn’t agree more. Though she does feature a large, diverse cast (much like in Falling), Newman still finds the time to develop her memorable characters without ever sacrificing pacing, telling her story from multiple POVs, each of them bringing something new and unique to the plot. Still, the magic is in the speed at which this story develops, and take it from me, it’s nearly impossible to not read it in a single sitting. Each page is dripping with a plethora of emotions—ranging from fear to claustrophobia—all of them palpable and real, creating a reading experience that is truly unlike anything else in print today. And as you experience that rising crescendo of tension and suspense, two things become crystal clear: T.J. Newman is for real, and she’s here to stay.

With two hit novels under her belt, T.J. Newman is the genre’s next big star . . . and Drowning is the book that everyone will be talking about in 2023. Stop whatever you’re doing and go pre-order it right now.

Book Details

Author: T.J. Newman
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1982177918
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 30 2023
Real Book Spy Rating: 9.75/10



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.

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