Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Image via Paula Hawkins Books

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?

This month I want to share with you my thoughts on a very overhyped book: Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train. The first thing that drew my attention to this book was the fact that Stephen King tweeted that he recommended it. So there I was, shortly after, purchasing the e-book version and diving right into it; and, let me tell you, this book messes with your head.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I’m a big fan of suspense thrillers/crime fiction, and I usually have enormously high expectations for them. Did The Girl on the Train live up to these expectations? Let’s take a look.

I immediately give Paula an enormously big plus for the characters. Never have I ever read a book with such a vast amount of unreliable characters, with not even a single character whose innocence I can be 100% sure of. These characters are suspicious. From the first moment you begin to read, you know that something is not right. All of them are hiding something. All of them are lying. All of them are evil.

Rachel is the main character: the abandoned wife, the broken one. The story is mainly told through her perspective. She’s an alcoholic, so from time to time she has blackouts where she can’t remember anything the following morning. She does some stupid things during these blackouts, and as a generally messed-up person, you have to decide if you trust her opinion or even her entire point of view. You start to wonder if it’s true that she’s not involved in the book’s major disappearance.

Then there’s Anna: the new wife, the one who leads the “perfect life” with a loving husband, a perfect house, and a newborn baby. Of course, things would be better if her husband’s annoying ex-wife would stop causing her problems with her alcoholism and rage, but her husband promised that it wouldn’t happen again. He is so perfect. He cares so much about her. Why wouldn’t she believe him?

Finally, there’s Megan: the spoiled one, the one who is so afraid of her past that she’s trying to just run and rush into oblivion. But will her past finally catch up to her?

Basically, these characters are going to blow your mind! Oh, how you will hate them for being so complex and unreadable! Of course, this is also the exact same reason for loving them because they won’t give away the story after the first few chapters, and they will keep their secrets to the very end.

In addition to finding the characters awesome, I found the first 2/3 of the plot to be great as well. Up until one specific point in the book, I was following the plot anxiously, searching for clues as to who the murderer was. However, at one point — just from a little assumption mind you — I figured out who was behind the whole mystery. I kept telling myself, “No, that’s not it; that would be to easy.” But, to my great disappointment, I was right. The reason I was disappointed was because it started out unbelievably well-written, but there’s a certain point where everything is given away before the ending if you pay just a little attention to the details.

So overall, would I recommend that you read this book? Yes, if you love crime/mystery stories and don’t have super high expectations. Still, it’s definitely worth a read, so go and check it out, and then let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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