Hello, people of the internet!
Yet another book I bought when it came out and have only read recently. Seriously, I need to work on that. Anyway, the strangest thing about this particular book is when the film version came out last year, it still didn’t make it want to read the book. It’s mainly because I didn’t want to get lost in hype. Was it really as great as people said it was? I try not to read anything with huge expectations because there is a chance it wouldn’t live up to it and I would end up disappointed.
Thanks to my new monthly posts ‘Books I Aim To Read This Month’, I have finally read The Girl on the Train.
Should I have read it sooner or should I have never took it off the shelf?
Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publication date: 5th May 2016
Every day the same.
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will want at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens.
She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses, ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see: she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
I have read lots of murder mystery thrillers in the past and was expecting The Girl on the Train to follow at least a few of those tropes, such as ‘the mysterious stranger’, ‘the red herring’ and ‘the butler did it’. The Girl on the Train may not be the most shocking thriller – I did have my suspicions and I was proved correct – but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the mystery. The twist did work for the story. Not once did I exclaim out loud, “Oh yeah, are you seriously expecting me to believe that?!? What a waste of my time!” I can’t say this for everyone, but I did like the twist. It suited the overall atmosphere of the story as well as the unreliability of its characters.
The only problem I have with The Girl on the Train is its lack of likeable characters. I only liked three of them. Even though Rachel does make mistakes and she is almost constantly very negative about herself, which can be overdone at times, but I found myself rooting for her. I hoped she would find help for her alcoholism and improve her wellbeing and job situation. I even hoped she wasn’t the killer! Sure, her interference with the lives of Scott and Megan (or Jason and Jess as she calls them) as well as her ex-husband, Tom, and his new wife, Anna and their child is stupid and I could tell it would create more problems, but I still wanted her to happy. I also really liked Cathy, Rachel’s roommate. It was her kindness that really made her stand out to me. She may not have had a huge role to play, but despite losing her temper with Rachel a few times (and rightfully so, if she didn’t get angry at Rachel for her drunken behaviour, then Cathy would have been unrealistic), she was very kind to her and does her best to help her. Even though he does make a few mistakes, I did like Dr Kamal Abdic, Megan and Rachel’s therapist. He is a pretty good therapist and he does help Rachel and Megan feel better about their problems to the best of his ability.
As for the rest of the characters? I will be very honest and say that, despite finding the majority of them interesting, I found them unsympathetic and I couldn’t connect with them. I cannot tell you how many times I had to put this book down and leave it for a bit because of how frustrated I was at them. I didn’t like Megan, though I found her back story intriguing as it did develop her character well. I felt there weren’t that many positive characteristics that would help balance out her negative characteristics. But at least I found her more interesting than Anna. I really didn’t connect with her at all. I really don’t think she had enough development to make her as interesting as Rachel or Megan. I also couldn’t connect with Scott, Tom or the detectives. In fact, to have the majority of characters to be unsympathetic makes this book very dark indeed. I cannot say for sure whether or not this was Paula Hawkins’ intention to have unsympathetic characters like this, or even whether or not other readers feel the same way, but personally I would have enjoyed this book more if I connect more with them.
That’s not the same I didn’t enjoy the book at all. By heck, it certainly is enthralling! The Girl on the Train does keep you guessing and with Rachel’s unreliable narration, it does add more to the plot. After reading so many crime thrillers with detectives are protagonists, it was nice to read a crime thriller from a different viewpoint. The Girl on the Train does have a disjointed timeline, but it is still easy to follow; not once I was confused. Furthermore, the whole book is written in ‘Morning’ and ‘Evening’ segments, which is very clever as it goes with Rachel’s communal train journey to and from London. To have three narrators, who are Rachel, Megan and Anna, did introduce new plot points, twists and shocks. It was interesting to read the different viewpoints and it works very well to the plot’s advantage.
I will give The Girl on the Train 4 stars out of 5. Despite finding most of the characters unsympathetic, I really did enjoy reading this! If you like thrillers, I recommend this for sure!
Thank you for reading!