Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsIt seems as though The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was the smash hit in 2015. Everywhere I turned, someone was recommending it, and several book lists recommended it to those who enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Much of The Girl on the Train takes place on a commuter train that goes into London and where we meet one of the main characters, Rachel, who is an unemployed, drunken mess who is concealing she is unemployed from her flatmate. While taking the train into London every day, Rachel passes her old townhouse, where her ex-husband, his wife, and their baby still live. A few doors down from Rachel's ex-husband reside a married couple, who are relatively new to the neighborhood. Rachel distracts herself on the train ride by making up stories of the seemingly happy couple, but when the wife of the happy couple Megan goes missing, Rachel is sure she has some clues to what may have happened but isn't taken seriously by the police.

The majority of the novel is told in the present tense by Rachel and the wife of her ex-husband, Anna. The remainder of the story is told in the past tense by Meghan, the missing woman. I was fine with the story flipping back and forth between the three women, but what really irritated me was going from the present time to the past. It was hard for me to switch gears.

Of the three women, Rachel was definitely the most likable, but I desperately wanted her to stop wallowing in the past and deal with it instead of masking her pain with booze. It was bothersome that her flatmate was very passive aggressive with dealing with Rachel's drinking problem. She should have been making more of an effort in getting Rachel some help instead of making threats and reneging on them.

Anna, the wife of Rachel's ex-husband, was his mistress when he was still married to Rachel. That immediately made me not like Anna, especially since it seemed she took pride in making Rachel miserable in any way she could whether it was tormenting her with the fact that she got the man or the fact that she gave him the baby that Rachel couldn't. Meghan, the woman who went missing, had a lot of issues that really messed her up. I wanted to like Meghan, but she was a train wreck. She would probably be referred to as poor, white trash.

The Girl on the Train was slow to start, but I stuck with it, and I was glad I did. At times, I feel like the author made some of the characters act in a way that wasn't consistent with their personality just to try to throw off the reader.  The other thing I didn't like was that she made Meghan's brother Ben seem like he was her lover at first and decided to make it go in a different direction. 

All in all, I enjoyed The Girl on the Train, and it was reminiscent of Gone Girl but yet stood on its own.


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