TITLE: The Girl on the Train
AUTHOR: Paula Hawkins
PUBLISHED: January 13th, 2015
PUBLISHER: Riverhead Books
GENRE: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Female-Noir, Suspense
MY RATING: 5/5 birds
Rachel takes the same train every single morning and night, past suburban homes that make her imagination run wild. She watches a couple every day and starts to pretend that she knows them. She gives them names and feels like their life is perfect. That is until she witnesses something that completely shocks her. She soon becomes entangled in their lives, unable to separate reality from her fantasy. In this psychological thriller, is Rachel’s memory of the event and the fantasy she has created doing more harm than good?
I have wanted to read this book literally since the moment it came out a year ago, but for some reason I just never purchased it, even after I read reviews and I knew I’d like it. I really loved Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep and that style of book that seems to be really popular now, but for whatever reason there was alway something else to read ahead of this.
And then, I was waiting for the train in London to take me back to Edinburgh and I really wanted to pick up the new Harry Potter book. WHS had a sale of “buy one get the second half-off” and after scouring the book section I was torn between this novel and Me Before You. I finally decided on The Girl of the Train (only because it was slightly cheaper) and I am so glad! It was literally the perfect read as I sat on the train, making my way back to Scotland, on a cold and bitter day. I read the entire book on the train in about 3 hours, it was very compelling and kept me at the edge of my seat!
All of the characters were despicable but I couldn’t help but love Rachel as the main character. I think the author’s intent was to make you hate her a little bit (or maybe for some people, a lot). The fat, pathetic, alcoholic unemployed sod with the very unreliable memory. She was utterly terrible but so well-written and such a great exploration of human personality.
I also really enjoyed the secretive aspect of the novel, where it seemed every single character had some deep, dark secret that, as the reader, we were privy to only some of the time.
One thing I did not like, which had nothing to do with the novel, was the review that was printed all over the book that said something along the lines about the main character being unreliable. I don’t know, maybe it would have been glaringly obvious once I started reading but I feel like that one review changed the way I read the book. Knowing off the bat that Rachel is unreliable was irritating to me, we all know she’s unreliable because of her alcoholism and black-outs (that was obvious) but I didn’t like having it pointed out to me before even starting to read and getting to know the characters. I know this probably isn’t a big deal to most people, but I really hate any kind of spoilers, and it makes me wonder if I would have been more surprised about certain situations if I thought differently about Rachel from the beginning? I really went into the book knowing nothing about it.