Paula Hawkins is fast making a name for herself. Her debut thriller has been published worldwide and has been optioned for film for Dreamworks.
The Girl on the Train has been hailed as this year’s Gone Girl. Hawkins has been credited for producing a work of Hitchcockian standards for this generation, captivating the reader as they try to keep up with the unfoldings of a murder case.
While the book is fast-paced, engaging and full of suspense, it is not without its flaws, but we will examine them later.
“To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists. Just goes to show.”
The basis of the book is formed around three females and how their lives are affected by each other. Mainly we hear from the troubled protagonist Rachel. Rachel is portrayed as a sad, pathetic, drunk, who struggles to face with the reality of her marriage breakdown and who hides the fact she was fired from her job from her family, and very few, friends.
She gets the same commuter train every morning and evening (in the pretence that she still has a job) and wishes her life away while fantasizing about the lives of those in the houses she passes, in particular, a young couple who she becomes fixated on.
Rachel has never met the couple – “Jess and Jason”, as she refers to them as, however, one morning when passing their house on her usual train, she witnesses something unusual and thus starts a series of events that grips Rachel, and pulls the audience in.
The other protagonists are Anna- Rachel’s ex-husband’s new partner, and Megan- the woman who Rachel refers to as “Jess”.
The main problem I had were the characters. None showed any likeability or redeeming qualities and I found myself getting irritated by their actions. All three female characters seemed to let the men in their life dominate them, and as the characters developed, so did their destructive traits.
All three genuinely despised each other and there was no solidarity between them, until the end, but even that was short-lived and covered in a shroud of secrecy.
Having said that, overall, this was a very enjoyable and entertaining book. It doesn’t dwell too long on any one character, which helps break it up and promotes more focus on the stirring events rather than the characters themselves.
It really shines in the last third section, where the drama and suspense pick up and the chips fall into place. While the climax was surprising and somewhat questionable, it was non-the-less a shocking culmination and conclusion to the tale.