Book reviews

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I felt let-down by The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This book has been everywhere over the past year or so and my expectations were high.

The first half of the story was intriguing. I was caught up in the mystery, wondering what, if anything, had happened and trying to figure out which character I should believe and why. But then the story went off the rails with a series of unbelievable events and characters acting uncharacteristically. Not quite a train wreck, more of a failure to arrive.

The story is told alternately in the first person by three women, Rachel, Anna and Megan, in segments which go back and forwards in time. The girl on the train is Rachel. She takes the train to and from her place of work daily, looking out of the window at houses and imagining the lives of the people who live in them. On her evening train, she drinks all of the way home.

One day on the train Rachel sees something unusual happening in the backyard of a house she has become familiar with, and later, when a murder is reported in the household, she contacts the police to tell them what she saw.

Anna and Megan, who are connected in various ways with Rachel, also take turns at telling the story, but it is Rachel who tells most of the story. As an alcoholic who suffers blackouts though, Rachel’s version of any story is not always credible.

The story is a fast read. None of the characters are particularly likeable and their faults are worse than what most people would tolerate in a friend. Despite my disappointment with the plot, I intend to see the movie sometime and hope The Girl on the Train is a better movie than it was a book.

Comments on: "The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins" (5)

  1. I didn’t like this one either, and you make some good points! The thing that bothered me the most was that the mystery didn’t seem like something the reader had enough information to solve — some of the reveals toward the end introduced new evidence as a plot twist, and it made the story feel dishonest somehow. I haven’t seen the movie, but I hope it turned out better than the book!

    • I guessed at the ending and got it, but you’re right, the clues weren’t there, which makes this a cheat. The reader is aware from the start that the narrator is unreliable though.
      If this author writes something else I will read it, based on how good the idea and the first half was. I do most of my reading on the train, should spend some time looking out the windows into people’s backyards…

  2. So glad I decided never, ever, ever. to read this one… 😉

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