The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published: Transworld, 2015
My Review: ***
If you haven’t heard about this book then you have probably been living under a rock for the past year and a half. A psychological thriller that has gripped apparently everyone, being on the bestseller lists for months.
Normally I don’t really read any crime or thrillers as to be honest, I’m too much of a wimp! With a bit of an overactive imagination it only takes watching an old episode of Midsomer Murders for me to be convinced someone is lurking in the shadows about to throttle me. I had been meaning to read this one though, and since my lovely sister got me a copy 😉 I thought I better read it!
EVERY DAY THE SAME
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 generally enjoy books where chapters switch between different narrators, and this is no exception. Obviously most of the story is told from Rachel’s point of view, and despite her being incredibly annoying, it worked fairly well with her being an alcoholic and prone to forgetting a lot of what she’s witnessed.
After ‘Jess’ really ‘Megan’ has gone missing, the book centres around why and who is responsible. There are the obvious suspects: the husband, the person she’s having an affair with. Now maybe I’m being too harsh but it all felt a little too familiar. The possibly emotionally abusive husband, the therapist whose boundaries may have become blurred. They felt like slightly convenient character stereotypes.
I did quite enjoy the slow unfolding of information throughout the book though it was maybe a little too slow. There were also a couple of decent red herrings, though again these felt a bit too deliberate to me – ‘Hmm who is this mysterious other character we don’t know anything about but probably, maybe, maybe not has something to do with the disappearance?’
Overall I thought the book was reasonably well paced (after say the first 50 pages), decently plotted and entertaining. I read it over a couple of days, mostly on the train! The final reveal felt a bit of a let down as I basically knew from about halfway through what was going to happen. In general the characters felt a bit thin and stereotypical, and the writing was pretty simple. If it’s an entertaining plot you’re after however, this book will do the job.
Have you read The Girl on the Train – what did you think? As there are the inevitable comparisons with Gone Girl – which did you prefer? I haven’t read Gone Girl but am considering it! Also, have you seen the movie of The Girl on the Train – is it worth a watch?