There are a couple of interesting lessons I learned from reading this book. First, don’t drink or do drugs. Second, don’t ever piss off the one you love. Third, stay away from crazy bitches.
Okay, the last one is a bit too much, but after reading this book, I’m honestly not sure what can trigger any woman (or man) to turn into a ballistic maniac.
The Girl on the Train is written by Paula Hawkins and was published by Riverhead Books (US) January 13, 2015 and Doubleday (UK) January 15, 2015.
In 2015 the novel became the fastest-selling adult hardcover novel in history, and it spent over four months on the New York Times Bestseller List following its release. The novel was honored by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best books of 2015, in the fiction category and it won Goodreads Choice Awards in the category Mystery & Thriller.
But how could a psychological thriller gain so many praises and awards? Well the story starts off simple…
It’s the morning of Friday, July 5, 2013 set in England. Rachel is a girl (well, woman) and she’s on a train. You guessed it: She’s the girl on the train.
Yea! Mystery solved, the end. Oh wait, no, we still have a lot of pages to go. So…
You have the story Rachel. Rachel is an alcoholic who gets on the 8:04 train every morning and then on again in the afternoon to go home. She pretends to go to work (she got fired for drinking and basically acting a fool) and goes on that same train every day.
She sees her “Golden Couple”, Jess and Jason, everyday. They live near her old home where she lived with her cheating ex-husband.
Rachel catches Jess kissing a guy that isn’t Jason. Suddenly, Jess goes missing. Rachel then decides to go to the police with what she knows, but the police find out she is not a reliable witness and tell her to stay out of it. Of course, that’s not happening. And so, we have a story!
First off, Paula Hawkins’ writing is unique and entertaining to read, turning this mystery thriller into a puzzle for the readers to figure out. Each chapter gives you more clues and truths about the murder Rachel is trying to solve, and the book does a good job with connecting everything together at the end.
But it also makes the reader question themselves. What this book did was made me rethink the times I’ve created stories about other people for my own satisfaction, before realizing the real reality. How I’m so used to thinking everyone’s lives are perfect compared to my own, but the story shows how no one can obtain a flawless life. Everyone has their own weaknesses that makes them who they are. The character, Rachel, has an imperfect life, but likes to see other people’s success for her own enjoyment because of her insecurity.
But despite the personal connections readers might feel and unique writing, the story was still going to have it’s own flaws. Specifically with Rachel with her unrealistic actions and her unreliable narrative.
First, Rachel did not personally knowing both Jason nor Jess, so her curiosity with the murder mystery is very odd. Her attachment to her “Golden Couple” is uneasy in a sense that she’s been stalking this couple for most of the beginning in the book.
Second, Rachel was a good character to read about through most of the book, but her narratives was completely unreliable. Yes, she’s a character who is described as being an alcoholic mess with no hope in life and she’s interesting because it strays from the Mary-Sue protagonist, but it’s hard to read her story when her mind is all over the place. Her main focus was on the mystery, but there were some points in the novel that made her question a lot of situations around her, and yet, we never got any answers to those questions. It felt as if Hawkins was trying to show us how messed up in the head Rachel is, but we already know that from the beginning, so she doesn’t need to bang us over the head with:
-“She’s an alcoholic!”
-“She can’t recall anything around her!”
Yes Hawkins, we understand, you don’t need to exaggerate too much on Rachel’s character.
However, the murder mystery was the only strong quality the book had. Everything else would, at some points, get dry and uninteresting. Mostly from the two other main women, Megan and Anne.
Rachel, out of Megan and Anne, had the most personality and I did personally enjoy her sarcastic character. Despite her unreliable perspective to move the plot forward at some points, she had the most personality compared to Megan and Anne. Both women had flat personalities, and only had a point-of-view chapter to help further the reader’s knowledge of the murder mystery. Yes, they were important, but they also did not have character development compared to Rachel.
Even some of male characters seemed a little too cartoony and unrealistic, which was another flaw the book had. Some actions these male characters committed seemed abrupt and awkward. Well, some of the events in the story seemed a little too unrealistic, but they were only there to further the plot. It’s a small flaw readers can overlook because the book is outrageous with everything.
Even if some of the characters were a little impatient to read about, I still kept reading until the end. Some of the scenes were a bit confusing, making me have to reread what just happened, but I felt satisfied with the jaw-dropping ending and everything tying together. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of mystery and thrillers, and has patience to read such a puzzling book.
However, it’s a book you might need to read twice, but only want to read once.