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?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)
My Review: As a reader of this blog, I’m assuming that you’re quite well-versed in what is going on in the reading world. And if not, that’s what we’re here for! This book has gotten a ton of media hype. It was also the winner for the Goodreads Reader’s Choice Awards 2015 for Mystery & Thriller. That being said, my expectations were high. Some of them were met, some of them were not, but I think that’s pretty much to be expected. It’s hard to get so much hype and live up to it.
First off, there’s no doubt that this book is exciting. There’s a lot going on and Hawkins is well-versed in keeping you guessing. She doesn’t give too much away, but just enough to make you think you know what’s going on (only later to find out that you were wrong!). The book is written from the first person perspective of several of the main characters. I don’t think these characters had super distinctive voices, and a few times I had stopped in the middle of a chapter to go back and make sure I knew who was talking. Still, each of the characters was definitely interesting. And stopping in the middle of a chapter was a rare occurrence, actually, as this book is really exciting! You keep turning pages no matter what. It’s definitely a quick read, one of those that you can pick up and finish off. It didn’t shake me to my core like it apparently did some people, but I think a lot of that is that this book reminded me of Gone Girl (the book, not the movie. The movie was hypersexual to the point of being offensive. Don’t get me started). So since I had read Gone Girl and already been shocked by all that and the way it was written, The Girl on the Train lost its shock factor. (It’s certainly not the same book, but if you liked Gone Girl then I HIGHLY recommend this one. They are very similar in their story style.)
The main character in this is an alcoholic, and I felt that was a convenient way to tie the entire story in and keep the surprises coming. At first I felt it was too convenient that she couldn’t remember, but her alcoholism seemed very real and having worked in a rehab center at one time, I could totally recognize the sadness and tragedy that was her life and the horror that came about because of it. In that way, this book could be a huge trigger for those who have suffered with such problems, so be aware of that.
When it comes right down to it, I’m only giving this book three stars because I thought it wasn’t that shocking and the mystery seemed a little bit contrived. The book is supposed to challenge your every belief about strangers and the way you look at them, but apparently I’m more jaded than the usual gal because I didn’t feel shocked. And also, the mystery resolved itself a little too conveniently because of the blackouts from the alcoholic main character. The blackouts gave Hawkins a lot of freedom to fill in other parts of the story that the reader was not privy to. I realize this could be the point, too, but I found it to be a crutch.
This is not a huge, deep story with well-built characters and an epic moral, but it was a lot of fun and a quick read. It’s certainly worth your time if you’re in to mystery and thrillers.
My Rating: 3 Stars
For the sensitive reader: This book has language and sexual content. It is on par with others of its genre.