Review: The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

Woops, I did a bad thing, and that was to read this book and completely forget to post a review. I did have some thoughts about it though, and some discussions with friends, so if you just give me a moment, maybe I can try and rearrange a few ideas to share.

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

The Girl on the Train 1

The idea

Think Gone Girl but a bit worse. I know it’s not exactly a glowing recommendation, and I’m not particularly a fan of this kind of genre so maybe I’m doing it a bit of an injustice, but this was the general consensus agreed amongst friends. A gripping start, an unreliable narrator, lots of twists and intrigue, but I felt like it was lacking the juice and shock factor of Flynn’s best-seller.

The characters

Thoroughly unlikeable. But maybe that was just me. And maybe that was the point.

The ending

Yes, there was an interesting twist, and no, no twist will ever be the same again after the mother of all twists that was We Were Liars. To be honest, I don’t think the ending was as shocking as Hawkins intended, but it was exciting enough.

Perhaps you can tell from the above, but I definitely have mixed feelings about this bookI think it’s clever, and I think it’s very real. Hawkin’s Rachel is a great 21st century hero, a frumpy middle-aged alcoholic woman, going off the rails, drunk texting her ex more than she should, and I found myself growing to dislike her, and kind of enjoying the feeling. The main problem, however, was that I just got completely lost and bored in the middle. The storyline was too repetitive and slow for me and unfortunately my interest waned.

Overall I enjoyed The Girl on the Train  and can see why it has garnered so much attention and publicity. It’s smart and sharp and it’s very real, where perhaps Gone Girl bordered on the fantastical. It’s a story of perception and voyeurism, domestic abuse and emotional truths, repressed memories and realities remembered.

Has it attracted me to the genre? Not really, but I’m willing to come back and give it another go. Has anybody got any suggestions to win me over?




One comment

  1. I’m currently giving away a copy of The Girl on the Train on my blog, so check it out!

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