The Girl on the Train | book review


Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead books
Publication Date: January 2015
Rating: 4.5 stars

Warning: This review contains slight spoilers. I reveal a little more information about the plot and the characters than the summary on the back of the book.

Today was the absolute perfect day to read: gray skies, constant downpour, cool breeze…aaaaaand of course I had to work eight hours. I read a couple chapters on my break and almost forgot to clock back in. I got home around 11pm and couldn’t resist – I had to finish the book. So I did. And now it’s almost 1am but I had to publish this review before I went to sleep…

Rachel takes the same train into the city every morning and home every evening. Every day, the train stops at a signal and allows Rachel to gaze at the cozy suburban homes just beyond the tracks. There are two houses in particular that she watches for – her previous home (before her life went to pieces) and the home of a couple she calls “Jess and Jason”, the perfect couple living the perfect life, similar to the one she lost. One day, when the train stops at the signal, Rachel catches a glimpse of Jess in her garden, kissing a man. A man that isn’t her husband. When Jess goes missing only days later, Rachel can’t help but get involved – she owes it to Jess, and it would be a grand distraction from her mess of a life. But Rachel soon uncovers truths she never would have thought possible. Truths that affect Rachel and everyone involved in the disappearance of Jess.

The Girl on the Train is told in alternating perspectives between three women: Rachel, Anna, and Megan. Almost everybody has played that game while people-watching where you make up stories about somebody and their lives, so right off the bat it’s fairly easy to relate to Rachel, making up names and stories for this couple she sees every day, living their perfect lives in their perfect home. However, once we get to know more about Rachel, it becomes harder to relate to her. And a lot harder to actually like her. Let me just put it bluntly: she is a drunk. A massive drunk. She literally drinks every day and gets into a ton of trouble because of her drinking. She even blacks out and doesn’t know what she did or said the next day. She makes a lot of dumb decisions that make me cringe. I didn’t necessarily hate her, and I did feel a lot of pity for her, but wow, this woman is a mess. Reading about her life made me want to go get a drink.

Then there’s Anna. Anna is married to Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom. While Rachel was married to Tom, he was sleeping with Anna on the side. Eventually he decided fucking her wasn’t enough and married her. I wasn’t a big fan of Anna, either. I thought she was kind of a pretentious bitch and pretty stupid (I know, I’m being blunt, but really, these characters were seriously fucked up). First of all, you have to have really low standards and morale to sleep with a married man. And then, when he leaves his wife and marries you, do you actually think he’s a better man now? Do you really think he’d be faithful to you? Honestly, how could you be so stupid. If he cheated with you, he’s going to cheat on you. That’s just common sense. Anyway, Anna is a complete bitch to Rachel (even though Rachel is slightly stalkerish) and is just kind of weird all-around.

Okay, let’s see, we’ve got the drunk, we’ve got the bitch, and finally, we have the cheat: Megan, AKA “Jess” in Rachel’s mind – the woman with the perfect husband and perfect life. Obviously, that life isn’t so perfect after all. I really liked Megan for awhile. I felt bad for her and I thought she was a good person despite her shortcomings. But then she just had to go and make really really really dumb decisions and brought a lot of pain and sorrow upon herself. However, she didn’t deserve the things that happened to her. She didn’t. Even thought Megan wasn’t perfect, I still think she was my favorite character.

I read this book because I saw it was being compared to Gone Girl and listed as #1 on some list of books to read, plus it sounded interesting and I never turn down a good mystery/thriller. It starts off slow – really slow – but picks up and soon it becomes hard to put down. I had quite a few assumptions of how the book would turn out, and fairly early on I pretty much solved the mystery, more or less. That didn’t make it any less interesting, though. I thought it had a good plot and was an entertaining read. I enjoyed how much I detested the characters, just like when reading Gone Girl. When you can read a book, hate the characters, and still enjoy the story, that tells you it’s a pretty good book. It was beautifully written and very well done. I hear there are plans for a film adaptation, so I have that to look forward to.

Favorite Quote: “I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.”

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