Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins / ★★★ 1/2

One sentence summary: Rachel Watson watches a husband and wife in their backyard through the window of her train every day, until the wife goes missing and Rachel believes she may have witnessed a clue to the mystery.

I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Plot

This book was rather difficult for me to rate, because I enjoyed it, read most of it in one sitting and nearly couldn’t put it down. The Girl on the Train sets a steady pace, is full of unreliable narrators, and has fairly chilling plot twists. This book disturbed me and infuriated me just like a great thriller should. I wasn’t always sure where it was going, and it was a very good murder mystery, one of the kind where, once I figured it out, it came together with a satisfying click. This book is crafty.

This book was not only a great murder mystery, but it’s a story about three women separately  trying to find their identities through a common thread of womanhood. The mystery is gripping, but this aspect of the novel is what punched me in the heart.

It was a very solid, captivating read until I reached the last 50 pages or so, when fell a bit flat for me, mainly because I couldn’t stop internally yelling Call the police! Now!  which turned into, This would not have needed to happen if you’d just taken 2 seconds to call the police when you had the chance. I’m not exactly sure if this is a fair assessment of the ending, since the characters are so unstable and unreliable- it wasn’t out of character for them to take matters into their own hands, or mistrust the police. But when a character is given time to take action- to call for help, to run away, etc., and they don’t use it, that’s when I feel the tightly knotted plot begin to loosen. It bothered me that the characters didn’t need to be in their situation, that it wasn’t a forced situation until after they’d walked themselves into it. Once the climax came, my heart was no longer in my throat. I wish it had been tighter.

Still,  I really enjoyed this book and it kept me on my toes for most of it.

Characters

The Girl on the Train is told my three different women, all of whom are unreliable in their own ways. All of three of them managed to invoke sympathy from me, and then in the next moment infuriate me to the max. It was a very brilliant, very interesting way to tell the story. I was as untrusting of them as those around them, and occasionally, as they were of themselves. I loved how these three women compared and contrasted, how they were pitted against one another and how they came together in the end.

Writing

This book is told from the alternating first person point of views of our three narrators, almost diary-style, except this book is not a diary. I loved the style of this book and thought it told the story fantastically.

Was I satisfied? 

So close…until the very end when I felt the climax could have been a bit tighter. Overall, though, I really did enjoy this book and it was a good can’t-put-down thriller.

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