The Girl on the Train Book Review *Paula Hawkins*

Feb 26, 2015 by

The Girl on the Train Book Review *Paula Hawkins*

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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?

 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is being compared to Gone Girl mainly because the narrator is unreliable. This premise keeps the mystery and tension alive to a certain point, but it’s a gimmick that’s going to become old fast if more books jump on this bandwagon.  But it works here, reaching out to fans who loved the premise of Gone Girl. The story is from three POV’s. The first POV is from Rachel, a divorced woman who takes the train into London each day. She pretends she’s going to work, but she was fired because she is an alcoholic. Her train runs past the old street where she used to live with her ex-husband, Tom. Tom lives in the same house he lived in with Rachel with his new wife Anna and their baby daughter. Rachel is very bitter about Tom cheating on her and then marrying his lover. She loses herself in drinking, but her one bright spot is watching a married couple together while on the train. She nicknames them Jess and Jason (she didn’t know them when she lived on their street because they moved in after she left). Jess and Jason appear to be perfect based on the few minutes Rachel watches them.

As Rachel continues to drink more, she has blackouts and does things she can’t remember. She’s harassing Anna and Tom, calling them and showing up at their house. Then as Rachel fixates on Jess and Jason, Jess ends up missing. Her real name is Megan and her marriage to Jason isn’t all roses. Rachel can’t remember anything the night Megan disappeared and now she has to retrace her steps because she is afraid she might be responsible for Megan’s disappearance.

The Girl on the Train at times is a suspenseful mystery. The reader slowly unravels things as the walk in Rachel, Anna and Megan’s shoes. The first few chapters are confusing because Rachel’s thoughts are all over the place. She’s not a sympathetic character. She blames everyone for her problems and comes across a sad sack. Her alcoholism is out of control. You sympathize more for Anna, even though she was a willing participant in ruining Rachel’s marriage and stealing Tom away. At first Megan comes across as this entitled brat, but when you find out about her past, you’re heartbroken. Once scene in particular where Megan explains what happens to her during a rain storm when she was in her teens will leave you shaken.

The mystery regarding Megan’s disappearance and whether she was killed is a merry chase for the reader as you figure out who is involved and who might be responsible when all the pieces come together. The last quarter of the novel is a nail biter. The ending has some shock and awe, specifically based on the actions of one of the characters.

The Girl on the Train was enjoyable and I can see it on the big screen. This book is officially a runaway hit, with sales reaching close to one million, promises this will be a movie, and one I would definitely see. I was busy casting the characters in my head as I read (for some reason I see Bradley Cooper as Tom and Melissa McCarthy as Rachel., which would be a great dramatic breakout role for her). If you can get past Rachel’s tedious internal, “woes is me” thoughts and some actions that comes across more pathetic than brave, The Girl on the Train should appeal to fans of a female driven plot, including those who enjoy popular genre fiction. (Riverhead Books)

 

More The Girl on the Train reviews:

The Guardian

Now Toronto

Washington Post

 

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