Friday, January 29, 2016
Book Review: 'The Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train was one of the most acclaimed books of 2015. It was always at the top of the recommended list at Chapters Indigo, and a lot of people were recommending it to me personally. I knew it was a thriller. A psychological thriller, at that. One of my favorite genres. I had seen a lot of mixed reviews; some loved it, some hated it. A television blogger whom I follow on Twitter and whose opinion I usually respect really didn't like it. I also knew that it was quite popular, which is why I was hesitant to read it: the last thriller novel to receive that amount of hype was Gone Girl, which I absolutely hated for reasons I won't get into, and a lot of critics were comparing The Girl on the Train to that. Eventually, I threw caution to the wind and decided to just read it.
And I'm so glad I did. It's so nice to see an acclaimed novel of any kind live up to the hype.
I do love psychological thrillers. Movies, television shows and books. I also think a lot of books that aren't considered psychological thrillers actually do fall into that category. The Girl on the Train was cleverly original, which was great to see, because it so could've been cliche and seen a thousand times before (*cough* Gone Girl *cough*). But it wasn't. It was great. A lot of these books have an unreliable narrator and The Girl on the Train has a great one; Rachel, the girl on the train herself, is an alcoholic who tends to get blackout drunk and therefore forgets important details from the past. In a nutshell, the story follows Rachel, a divorced woman who is forced to live with an old friend after her husband left her for another woman. She lost her marriage and her job due to her drinking, but doesn't want her flatmate, Cathy, to worry about her, so she still takes the commuter train everyday to London. She often gazes out at the house where she used to live, where her ex Tom still lives with his new wife Anna and infant daughter Evie, but also watches a neighboring house where a couple lives. Rachel calls the couple Jess and Jason, fantasizing about their perfect life together. The wife, Megan, later goes missing. All of the characters are somehow involved. The outcome is mind-blowing.
There were a lot of plot points that I thought wouldn't have a good outcome in the final climax of the story, but they did end up working out perfectly. The Girl on the Train is a masterpiece. It really is. Officially one of my favorite psychological thrillers. I also can't wait for the film adaptation which is due out next fall, because Emily Blunt is portraying Rachel and I can't wait to see how it turns out. 5/5 stars.