REVIEW: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Girl on the TrainRating: 5 out of 5 stars, Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Pages: 323, Level: Easy

Book Description:

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 is one wild train ride! I finished it in less than two days. That’s how good this book is.

The Girl on the Train is a combination of Chick Lit and Mystery and is pretty much a pure entertainment read- nothing wrong with that, although there is a great reference to the e.e. cummings poem ‘since feeling:’

Life is not a paragraph, and death is no parentheses. p7

That was a nice surprise. And while there is not a lot of intellectual depth to the story, in my humble opinion, I did have a great time trying to figure out what’s going on. In addition, I didn’t have to wait long to get into the story; on the contrary, I was hooked from the very beginning.

I haven’t been writing reviews for a long time, comparatively speaking, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the inside of a classroom, so I have only recently heard of, or been reminded of, the unreliable narrator. I didn’t know or remember that was a thing until my sister mentioned it with regard to a different book. Well that is what you have here- an unreliable narrator. Don’t worry, it’s not much of a spoiler because Hawkins reveals this pretty much from the beginning. My point is, if you don’t like that, it may be a problem.

The story is told from three different points of view and one of them is in a different timeline that begins a year before the present and catches up to the present by the end of the book. This was a bit problematic for me. I don’t mind the different points of view but I did have a difficult time with the jumping back and forth in time. The sections begin with dates and the one in the past first begins with ‘One year earlier.’ Had those sections continued that way, ‘9 months earlier’ and ‘7 months earlier,’ it would have been easier to keep track of what was going on and when. However, after the first section in the past, they are all dates. I had to keep going back and checking to see how far behind that point of view was.

The issues in Girl are heavy, so it is awfully light on humor, although I guess that really depends on what you find humorous. For example-

   I am going to see Jason.
   I am not going to visit him, I’m not going to turn up at his house and knock on the door. Nothing like that. Nothing crazy. I just want to go past the house, roll by on the train. I’ve nothing else to do, and I don’t feel like going home. I just want to see him. I want to see them. p37

I’m going to stalk him a bit but that’s all; nothing crazy. I thought this was hilarious but then I do have a warped sense of humor.

Finally, Hawkins does a great job at developing multi-faceted characters and I think the different points of view really helps with that. For example, as I read about the new wife from the former wife’s point of view, I hated the new wife. Then I read from the new wife’s point of view and some of my hate dissipated. However, even though I got to see events from different points of view, I still did not find any of the characters likeable, so there’s also that. If you have to have at least one likeable character to enjoy a book, you probably better be very forgiving.

Now that I’ve gotten all the warnings out, here’s my recommendation- READ THE BOOK! It’s really good.

Reviewed by Christina
September 4, 2015

3 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

  1. Absolutely fantastic book! Much better ending than Gone Girl. I just picked up In a Dark, Dark Wood that is supposed to be along the lines of both of those; it has also picked up quite a bit of hubbub. Looking forward to reading it.

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