Friday, May 22, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Publication Date:  January 15, 2015
Publisher:  Riverhead Books
Series:  Stand Alone
Pages:  336
Genre:  Mystery 
Synopsis:  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?

Review:  Girl on the Train has been compared to the popular thriller, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Not having read Gone Girl, I cannot say how they are similar or if The Girl on the Train lived up to the extreme hype of the comparison.  But, I can certainly say that this book did not live up to my personal expectations of this debut novel by Paula Hawkins.  

The writing really appealed to me, from the very first page. Hawkins has a descriptive, crisp way of writing that I enjoyed immensely.  The book is rife with suspense.  The secrets and lies just kept piling up, something revealed just as the investigation begins to go south. The red herrings are well done, I will admit to that.  However, it becomes that you are suspicious of every character possible, and the only one left who seems innocent is the killer, which is glaringly obvious.  

The plot progresses at a snails pace, with a fairly standard mystery. There is less action than I expected going into the book.  For a thriller, it isn't too thrilling.  It is unsettling and downright disturbing at points, but it never excited me in the way I wanted it to.  In part, this is the characters' fault.

Disappointingly, I did not like a single character.  Every single one is a liar and a cheat and downright pathetic.  That's the worse part--just how deplorable they all are.  While it is a stunning work in character study and what motivates people, that same fact makes it difficult to enjoy reading the book, since it is so character driven.  

Rachel is the main protagonist, with most of the book being told from her point of view.  Sadly, she is also the one I disliked the most.  It is just the way she refuses to pick herself up, to move on. Like Elsa said, she just needs to let it go.  She is clinging to her past life while wrecking her current one.  You can't help but root for her to finally fix everything, but it takes a long wait for her to make a real effort, and by then, you have become sick of her.  

Megan is the victim herself, the object of Rachel's obsession throughout the novel.  The chapters told by her are far more intriguing than those by the other two woman.  Her side begins months before she is killed, weaving the web of lies that led to her demise.  Now, I never quite liked her, either, but she came a lot closer than Rachel.  There is just something about a mystery book being told, at least in part, by the mystery herself.

The third and final woman to share her perspective is Anna.  Anna is the woman who had an affair with Rachel's now ex-husband and currently lives in Rachel's old house with her new family that she built on the ruins of another.  Her character is a bit two dimensional.  She isn't fleshed out like the other two are, unfortunately, and I don't have much to say on her other than the fact that I didn't like her much.    

In the end, I blame myself for not appreciating this book more.  I had built up this idea in my head of what the book was going to be. In all honesty, I prefer the version I daydreamed.  I fell in love with the promise of this book and the impression it had given me.  I only wish I could have loved the actual story more.    

2.5 Keys  


  1. Thanks for dropping by my blog :)

    One of my blogger friends reviewed this one and had the same reaction as you, Erin. She disliked the characters too, and as a result, had a tough time connecting with this book. I haven't read Gone Girl, but do you think you will - perhaps to see if it's better than this one?

    1. Of course! I love reading other book blogs to see what people think of books I have read or want to read!

      I'm just glad to hear someone else agrees with me about this book. So many other people have loved it that it is difficult to find someone who didn't quite like it the same way. I do plan on reading Gone Girl soon! I actually just read Gillian Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects, and really enjoyed it. My review of it should be going up this Friday, actually. I am excited to read Gone Girl even more now and will hopefully be getting to it ASAP.

  2. Oh sorry you didn't like this one! I actually quite enjoyed it. But I totally get your points. Great review!

    1. I'm sorry, too! :( I really wanted to like this, but just couldn't connect. I'm glad you enjoyed it, though. And thank you very much! :D