Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. 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 looks forward to it. 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 her discovery to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but 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.”
Review: I have been curious about The Girl on the Train since its publication, given that it skyrocketed to the top of many bestseller lists shortly after hitting bookstores. I’ve also heard the many inevitable comparisons that readers draw between The Girl on the Train/Paula Hawkins and Gone Girl/Gillian Flynn. While I can’t say that I’ve read Gone Girl, I have read Sharp Objects and, in my opinion, Hawkins’ writing doesn’t even come close to the masterful, suspenseful storytelling of Flynn. I get it, The Girl on the Train is “compulsively readable.” Despite being pretty displeased with the book, I still finished it in under two days. I developed a theory early on about what had happened to Jess/Megan (which turned out to be correct), and then spent the last two-thirds of the book telling myself that it couldn’t be that predictable. I didn’t like Rachel, which isn’t a surprise; I know we as readers aren’t supposed to like her. She’s pretty pathetic, albeit pitiable. What I do take issue with is *SPOILER ALERT* the fact that Rachel has completely blocked out all instances of Tom’s abusiveness from her memory. I know, I know: she’s an alcoholic who struggles with memory repression. I understand, on a scientific basis, how she could bury those bad memories in her subconscious and instead paint herself in a negative, abusive light. But it seemed a little far-fetched to me that she would have LITERALLY NO RECOLLECTION of Tom every being the least bit abusive or aggressive. I can appreciate an unreliable narrator as well as the next person, but I spent most of The Girl on the Train being frustrated with every single character. If someone asked me for a psychological thriller, I would definitely send them in Gillian Flynn’s direction instead of Paula Hawkins.