Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Fiction; Mystery; Thriller
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Date Finished: March 21, 2015
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?
Is anyone out there a “people watcher”? Do you sit in a shopping area, pick out a person, make up a name for them, and imagine what their story is? Well, Rachel, the main character of this book, takes her people watching to a whole different level. Obsessive is the word that immediately springs to mind. But, if you think this is going to be some creepy stalker story where Rachel terrorizes this couple from afar, you are completely wrong. This story has so much more to it.
Let me be perfectly honest. There was not a single likeable character in this book. They were all horribly flawed and damaged. Some were flat-out crazy. But, like any good train wreck, I couldn’t turn away. I wanted to know how it would all pan out.
Rachel, our main character, was a raging alcoholic. This made for some very uncomfortable reading. Her blackouts and constant justification of her drinking were infuriating. It also made her a completely unreliable narrator. Throughout the book, I was never sure if she was telling us the truth or her drunken version of the truth. The worst part was that she wasn’t sure either.
The other characters were just as bad. “Jess & Jason,” Rachel’s made up names for the people she watched, actually turned out to be Megan and Scott Hipwell. Early on, Megan goes missing, but throughout the book, we get her back story in her own voice. She turns out to be a horrible person. Her husband is no peach either. Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom, is a douche-bag and his new wife, Anna, is a whiny, paranoid woman with no spine. So, now you see why I said none of these characters were likeable. Honestly, I really didn’t want to be in any of their heads.
This book’s redeeming factors were that it was well written and it offered very interesting character studies. I kept wondering if there are really people like this? Maybe I’m too stoic, but I just can’t imagine being as out of control as these people were.
The Girl On the Train was compared to Gone Girl in several reviews I read. Let me be clear…this is not Gone Girl. There are no major plot twists. The similarity lies in the character flaws. Gone Girl didn’t have any likeable main characters either, but, like Gone Girl, I liked this book despite that fact. Their atrocities are what furthered the plot and made the book what it was.
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars, so it got a solid 3 1/2. This was not a super fast read. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The different points of view were a bit disjointed in the beginning, but once their voices were established, I had no trouble. The mystery aspect of the story was ok. I did have it figured out before the big reveal, but it ended pretty well. If you like dark mysteries like Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, this fits the genre. It definitely had a gritty, uncomfortable feel to it. So, if that’s your thing, I say go for it!