Book Review: The Girl on the Train

girlontrainTitle: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Rating: 4/5

The Girl on the Train is an intense, psychological thriller that follows Rachel, an unemployed alcoholic with voyeuristic tendencies. Although she lost her job months ago, Rachel still takes the same commuter train into the city in an attempt to fool her roommate.  Along her daily commute, Rachel passes the house of a married couple that she grows a strong attachment to. She gives them names and envisions their lives together even though she has never met them. One day on her commute, Rachel witnesses something shocking from the train and becomes consumed with the possibility that the couple may not have the perfect marriage that she had hoped for. After a night of heavy drinking, Rachel blacks out and wakes up with unexplainable wounds. She soon learns that Megan, the woman she watches from the train, has gone missing and that she was in the area at the time of Megan’s disappearance. Rachel throws herself into the police investigation, desperate to find Megan and to recover memories from that night that may lead to answers.

The story is told from three different points of view. The first and major perspective that Hawkins uses is Rachel’s. Rachel’s point of view is sad and hopeless as she attempts to sober up in order to assist in the police investigation. Hawkins contrasts Rachel’s point of view with Anna’s. Anna is Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife and she absolutely hates Rachel. Anna attempts to turn Rachel’s ex-husband and the police against her and continues to lament how dangerous Rachel is capable of being. The third point of view is of Megan, but it is from the year prior, not from present day. As Megan’s point of view begins to get closer to present day, the reader sees the events that lead to her disappearance.

Throughout the novel, I never really liked any of the characters. Rachel has been an alcoholic for years and hasn’t tried to end the suffering in her situation. She is reckless and she puts herself in a few dangerous situations throughout the novel. Although I started to feel sorry for Rachel at the end of the novel, I never liked her. Megan is a restless young woman who seems to have grown more neurotic ever since losing her job at an art gallery. She harbors a big secret and as the story progresses, it becomes clear that she has some inner demons. Still, even though she becomes a victim, I still didn’t like her. Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, is incredibly paranoid and mean. Throughout the novel, these women became hard to distinguish between and they all become mentally unstable caricatures. I wish Hawkins would have made these women unique individuals instead of three women with almost the same personalities.

I never grew attached to any of the supporting characters in the book either. Scott is Megan’s husband and although he seems distraught by his wife’s disappearance, there’s something about him that’s hard to like. He is described as controlling and exhibits a temper that makes it hard to sympathize with. Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband, seem harmless enough at first, but morphs into an unlikeable character as well. The police officers in the story didn’t really make an impression on me and I thought they were very forgettable. Rachel’s roommate is equally forgettable.

Overall, I thought this was a good book. I thought that the voyeuristic concept was interesting and the story kept me engaged even when the characters did not. I thought that the ending had a surprising and intriguing twist. This novel has been compared to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, but I’m not sure if this book lives up to the hype. The Girl on the Train is not as good as Gone Girl or as fast paced, but it is still a really good story. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in a suspense novel that will keep you guessing.

If you have read The Girl on the Train, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. To view The Girl on the Train on Amazon, please click here.

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