Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: January 15, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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? A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone GirlThe Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories."

Everyday on the train into London, Rachel Watson looks out the window at the houses that fly by. She is especially intrigued by a couple that lives by the train tracks near her old home that she shared with her ex-husband, Tom.  She calls this couple "Jess and Jason" and she thinks they are absolutely perfect. The irony is not lost on her that Tom lives a few houses down with his new wife, Anna, and their new baby. She isn't over her ex-husband and finds solace in alcohol. Her drinking has cost her more than her marriage though. It has even cost her her job, so now she rides the train to London everyday to keep up appearances and to get her roommate off her back. One day on the commute into London, she sees Jess with another man. This sparks Rachel's interest, because how could this infidelity happen? They seemed perfect together, or so she thought. Then she finds out "Jess" or Megan Hipwell, has gone missing. Rachel takes it upon herself to report what she saw to the police, but then things sort of get out of hand when Rachel remembers in a drunken haze that she was on Megan's street the night that she disappeared. To complicate things even more, she had a run in with Tom and Anna that night as well. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is an edge-of-your-seat debut that fans of Gone Girl will love. There are many twists and turns, unreliable narrators and a serious of who-done-it moments that will keep readers guessing.

I really felt for Rachel in The Girl on the Train. She is extremely troubled and a bit of a hot mess. Her personal and professional life has fallen apart and she is a raging alcoholic.  She has been dealt a tough hand in life, but the choices she makes are very poor. I was waiting for her to pick herself up and dust herself off, but she seems to fall into a dark hole after dark hole before she is able to completely redeem herself.  To top it off, she is very much obsessed with Tom and just can't let him go. Even though he cheated on her and then moved on to Anna, she is still in love with him and is a borderline stalker... calling him at all hours, showing up at his house, you get the idea.  So, needless to say, reading about Rachel was like watching a bad accident. I couldn't really relate to her, but that didn't stop me from watching the circus that is her life.

Once she sees the infidelity between "Jess and Jason" her world sort of revolves around that mess. She doesn't have much going on, so she throws herself into figuring out what happened to Megan Hipwell.  Of course, she isn't a reliable witness or even a reliable narrator as she spends most of her time and the night that Megan disappeared in a drunken stupor. So how can the police or even readers trust her judgment? However, as The Girl on the Train progresses, she starts to remember details about that night and things start to get serious.

Hawkins does a brilliant job switching the points of view in The Girl on the Train. Hawkins shares Rachel's perspective, but also Megan and Anna's.  It's the perfect amount of different points of view and there's definitely a good balance. The switching of narrators doesn't overwhelm the readers like some psychological thrillers that involve many varying points of view. Every character is such a mess in this story and withholds many secrets (similar to Gone Girl), so I wasn't sure who to believe. 

Hawkins had me guessing right up till the last page. Since she is a debut author, I was thoroughly impressed and have my eye on her future work.  So, if you are a fan of really well done psychological thrillers and loved Gone Girl, then check out The Girl on the Train. You won't be disappointed. 



12 comments:

  1. Great review, Christina!! I was really sympathetic to Rachel's plight and felt very drawn to her, even though I cannot relate to her situation; like you, I wanted her to "get it together" and I was pleased with the way the story unfolded. What a wild ride, right? I'd love to go back and read it again, which is the way I felt when I finished Gone Girl, too. So glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. Thanks, Tara! It was a total wild ride and one that completely sucked me in. Thanks for the recommendation! Your review and Leanna from Daisy Chain Book Reviews totally swayed me to read it stat. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. This one is next on my to-read list, and I am so excited! I've seen so many great things about it, and I'm ready for another edge-of-my seat mystery/thriller. Your review has me pumped up!

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    1. If you liked Gone Girl, you'll definitely be a fan of this book. I can't wait to hear what you think of it. Thanks for visiting, Allison!

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  3. It sounds like a difficult read, but I've never let that stop me. :) I can't wait to read this now.

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    1. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it, Joy. It will definitely keep you in suspense. Thanks for visiting!

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  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I started it, but had to return it before I could get all the way through it. I'm back on the list for it, though, and can't wait to see what happens. I love that it had you guessing until the end. Great review!

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    1. Ohhh! I hope you get to finish it. Although it isn't as good as Gone Girl, it's still pretty darn good. Can't wait to hear your thoughts. Thanks for visiting, Natalie!

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  5. Don't think I'd like Rachel as a character but I'd probably keep reading just to find out what happens. Sounds like quite a story! Great review!

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    1. No, I wasn't the biggest Rachel fan either, but, like you said, I had to know how it was going to end up. It was definitely an edge-of-your-seat read! Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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  6. This is definitely one of the best thrillers I've read in a while. I still prefer Gone Girl just that bit more - I love Gillian Flynn's writing - but this one is really good!

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    1. Me too, Leanna. I liked Gone Girl a little more as well, but I thought this was well done. I don't read many thrillers, but this kept me guessing. Thank you recommending this book to me and thanks for visiting.

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