Fast-paced & Riveting: Drowning by T.J Newman

by Theja Pk
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Last updated on May 18th, 2024

In this review, we will take an in-depth look into TJ Newman’s latest book, Drowning.

12 lives are at risk when a plane plummets into the ocean shortly after taking off from Hawaii. This fast-paced thriller takes us on a journey as these survivors fight for their lives, while those on the surface race against time to rescue them.

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.

Drowning – TJ Newman

4.6 out of 5
book cover of drowning by TJ Newman showing a plane falling down into the water

GENRE: Suspense/thriller
PUB DATE: May 30, 2023
TWs: death of child, death by various causes

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.

5 out of 5
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Overall Enjoyment
5 out of 5
5 out of 5


fast paced, engaging plot

narrative structure with multiple POVs and timelines

excellent immersive narration

emotionally intense


unexpected ending (personal preference)

excessive technical jargon that was hard to follow


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 drags you right into the heart of the action. It opens with the failure of the plane’s engine, and this intense adrenaline and nerve-wracking tension persists throughout the book. This audiobook had me on the edge of my seat.

There are a few predictable moments and those that are hard to believe. But it didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment for me. 

The ending is where I had 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, some chapters take the reader back in time to understand the main character’s backstory. If you think all these POVs will be overwhelming, they won’t be. 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 understand all the complicated 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 thrilling 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.

Check this out if you love adrenaline fuelled survival stories.

Drowning Movie Adaptation

When I finished listening to this book, I knew it would be a blockbuster hit if it was ever made into a movie.

And to my surprise, Warner Bros Studios won the film rights to Drowning! But the casting and release date is yet to be determined.

Fun fact: TJ Newman’s debut novel, Falling, is also being adapted into a movie. Falling became Simon & Schuster’s fastest-selling fiction debut since 2004. The story follows a pilot who faces an impossible choice – crash the plane he’s flying to save his kidnapped family or save his passengers at the cost of his own family’s lives.

I don’t know where TJ Newman gets these mindblowing plots from, but I cannot wait to watch these films on the big screen!

Have you read this book? Are you looking forward to the movie adaptation? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear them!

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