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 Girl, The 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.