I decided to mix things up for my last book of the month. I picked up a hot thriller – so hot that some have claimed it’s the most gripping book of the genre since Gone Girl. I’m not so certain that Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train is going to be the runaway hit that some are predicting. Sure, it will get a lot of sales, but I feel that maybe people will walk away dissatisfied.
The premise is interesting. Rachel takes the same train to and from London every day. The train stops at the same signal for a few minutes along the route and she watches a couple. She doesn’t know them, but they’re her friends due to the amount of time she watches them on their terrace. Rachel sees something one July day and everything changes.
Hawkins arranged the novel to be told from the points of view of Rachel and Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife Anna. Those narrations split the summer of 2013, when the novel takes place. Then Megan is the third narrator, filing in the past year. She’s the one who is murdered in this murder mystery.
The three women are compelling narrators; Rachel is the main character of the novel, taking most of the book to herself. She’s flawed and can be considered an unreliable narrator though. She’s an alcoholic, which is laid on pretty thick by Hawkins. The amount of times Rachel sneaks booze on the train and wakes up hungover after blacking out is too constant. I understand that’s the life of an alcoholic, but it just feels repetitive. She becomes grating at times, but still remains interesting enough.
All of the twists and turns that the novel, feels like it could be an episode of Law and Order: SVU. There are red herrings, subtle revelations, and entire parts of the timeline rewritten with one simple clue that was left out to draw suspense. But for the most part, The Girl on the Train is an interesting read. There are wrinkles scattered throughout the story that that really does make it a fast and interesting read, albeit predictable at times. Even a lot of the characters – mostly the males – seem underdeveloped. They’re stock characters until they need to do something interesting.
Everything builds and builds with such wrought tension that it seems to explode in the final pages of the story. Everything that was so tightly constructed unravels in a way. It becomes less interesting once the mystery is easy to guess. I felt like I just wanted to get through the ending to know that I was able to fill in the blanks that I couldn’t fill in as opposed to being intrigued by how it would all unfold.
It’s worth the quick read that it is only for the construction of how it all unfolds. It’s interesting bouncing between the narrators, getting bits and pieces here and there. It’s no Gone Girl, so just don’t expect that.