Book Review: “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train Book CoverThree women, three men, connected through marriage or infidelity. Each is to blame for something. But only one is a killer in this nail-biting, stealthy psychological thriller about human frailty and obsession.

Just what goes on in the houses you pass by every day?

 

The Girl on the Train is the first novel from British journalist-turned-author Paula HawkinsIt has been on bestseller lists for ages, and on my e-reader since sometime in July. Last month, I decided it was time to find out if this psychological thriller lived up to all the hype.

The short answer. It did…and it didn’t.

To be fair, The Girl on the Train was a well-plotted novel with unlikeable, but still relatable characters. Rachel was divorced and unemployed. She was also clinically depressed because she was barren and self-medicated with alcohol. Anna was an unapologetic homewrecker and a baby mama to Rachel’s ex-husband Tom. Megan was a former art gallery owner, an occasional child minder for Anna, and she was also mentally ill (the way her character was written suggests bipolar disorder). All three ladies were troubled by their poor life choices. Megan’s would ultimately lead to her death, and Anna and Rachel would narrowly escape the same outcome.

Speaking of death, the man who killed Megan, and attempted to kill Rachel, was such a despicable human being that even death was too good a fate for him. I’d say more, but I’m trying to keep from spoiling the book.

Regardless of how good the plot was, this so-called thriller was not very thrilling to read. A good chunk of the book was just Rachel throwing back gin and tonics, and making up stories about Jess and Jason (Megan and Scott), a supposedly perfect couple from her old neighbourhood, whom she spies on every day as her commuter train passes their row house. It was mind-numbingly boring. I had to force myself to read a little more each day, hoping it would soon become the gripping page-turner that I was promised.

It never happened. The story began to time jump all over the place, and was now being told by Rachel, Megan and Anna. With each new chapter flip-flopping not only between past and present, but also between narrators, it became increasingly difficult for me to remain engrossed in the story. Throughout the last half of the book, I didn’t have time to try to guess who the killer might be—I was too busy trying to keep straight which day, month or year it was. By the end, I couldn’t care less who killed Megan, I was just happy to be finished the damn book.

However, now that I’ve read the bestselling novel of 2015, I totally get why Hollywood was so quick to snap up the film rights. The movie-version of this book should be riveting, as long as it’s told in more of a chronological order and if the plot and characters haven’t been tweaked too much.

Have you read The Girl on the Train yet? If the answer is yes, what did you think about the sorry lives of Rachel, Anna, Tom, Megan and Scott?

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