Book Review: The Girl on the Train

Title: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Doubleday

Published: 2015

Pages: 320

Price: £6 from amazon

ISBN: 978-0857522313

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Brief summary:

The Girl on the Train is a thrilling novel that poses the question: What if you saw something odd on your regular commute to work? This novel follows Rachel as she travels on the same trains every morning and evening on her commute to London. She passes the familiar houses each and every day, creating an imaginary life for two of the occupants – Jess and Jason. However, one morning she sees something peculiar which becomes significant when one woman from that street – the girl she calls Jess – goes missing. The reader follows her journey as she battles with the loneliness of her divorce, her alcoholism and her obsession with the perfect couple she sees daily.

Review:

This is the first book of this genre I have read and I have surprisingly enjoyed it. Although getting into it was a bit difficult for myself, once I got emerged into the plot I began to enjoy it a lot more. The structure of this novel is set out to switch between three perspectives – that of Rachel, Megan (the missing woman) and Anna (Rachel’s ex-husbands new wife). I found the difference of perspectives to be interesting as they enabled me to help piece together the mystery. By letting the reader find out clues to help solve the mystery slowly, it keeps the reader engaged with the novel and doesn’t throw a lot of information to the reader at once. Also, alongside the difference in perspectives there is also a difference in the times of the novel, switching between the time in which Megan went missing to the days and months following this as Rachel follows the investigation.

The character of Rachel is quite a complex one – following her alcoholism and her divorce, who wouldn’t be a bit messed up? – and the way the author deals with these issues made me personally feel sympathetic for her and her current situation. I felt myself willing for her to turn her life around, to remember what happened on that fateful night and for her to be able to live happily away from her ex. Of course, at the end of the novel there is a sort of happy ending but one very different from that seen in fairytales but to Rachel this outcome is enough. Even though she is still clearly haunted emotionally, her alcoholism and her divorce are not her main problems, showing some sort of new equilibrium.

The ending of the novel – although given hints throughout – was still quite a shock to me but an effective one. The way in which the author dealt with the situations of the many characters, I thought, was tasteful and professional. Overall, this novel was an adventure for me and opened me up to a different genre I will look for more book in, in the future.

My rating: 4/5

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