Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Posted September 7, 2016 by Bekka in book review / 1 Comment

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published by Riverhead Books on January 13th, 2015
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. 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 goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I haven’t finished a book since mid-July, not counting one comic that I read toward the end of that month. To say the reading slump is epic would be an understatement. Which is why I’m saying that it’s sort of a miracle that I finished this book. Not that it was bad or boring, because it wasn’t at all, but because I just don’t finish books anymore. But I’m so happy I picked up The Girl on the Train after seeing the movie trailer. It wasn’t perfect, but it kept my interest and I think I’m finally back to reading again.

The best thing I can say about The Girl on the Train is that it took me a really long time to figure out who the bad guy was. Usually I am way, way ahead of the game, but this time, just the opposite. I found out the big twist right alongside the main character, Rachel. There was so much going on – from the missing woman, the the unaccounted for phone calls, to the blackouts. It was hard to figure out how they all tied into one another. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but instead I fell for all the red herrings. I was really surprised by how it turned out, and a lot of the details were absolutely bone-chilling.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the main character. Now, she’s not at all likable. She’s not really like any other mystery heroine I’ve read about. Usually the leads in adult mysteries are plucky, upbeat, gorgeous, and sarcastic. And honestly, Rachel is none of these things. She’s severely depressed after her husband left her for another woman. She’s an alcoholic. She’s a liar. She’s terrible at interpersonal relationships. She’s a goddamn mess. And I found her so much more approachable for these flaws. Of course, I found some of her actions frustrating, too. I wanted to shake her every time she picked up a drink or every time she failed to communicate properly. But something about her really spoke to me, and I felt so comfortable being in her head, even at the worst of it all.

I do wish that the plot had more twists and turns. I was surprised to find out the culprit of Megan’s disappearance, but I can’t say I was shocked. My mind wasn’t blown to pieces or anything. There were twists for the side characters for sure, though. But the problem with that is, we already knew those details. I’m not sure how the plot could have been improved upon, since it did keep my guessing. But I guess after reading so many rave reviews, I was ready to have my mind blown and it just didn’t turn out that way.

Finally, there were some details in this story that just made me sick to my stomach. And I’m not even talking about murder here, or the fact that the victim is yet again a woman. There was an affair in this book, and the character, point of view we actually get a number of times, did not feel bad at all. Reading her flippant response to someone else’s pain, especially that deep of a betrayal, just didn’t sit well with me, and made me hate a character I was actually intrigued by. There was also something terrible in the missing woman’s past that made me have to put down the book. I’m not saying View Spoiler » is entirely her fault, but it was so, so, so hard to read about. It made me so uncomfortable and I wish her deep dark secret could have been literally anything else.

All this to say I’m very excited to see the movie. The nonlinear narrative style worked very well for this book and I’m interested to see how they’ll portray that on film. Also who doesn’t love Emily Blunt? And while this wasn’t my favorite psychological thriller of all time, I will definitely be picking up any of Hawkins’ future releases.

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