4 stars out of 5.
I have this occasional fond for mystery books and I can say that this book satisfied me. I have high expectation of this book considering that I’m always seeing rave reviews of this in YouTube and I can say that this somewhat lived up to the hype. The book has this classic mystery feel to it with all the elements well presented. We have this memory blackout, complex love affairs, domestic drama, authorities doubting the real witness and surprise twists. The Girl on the Train is Paula Hawkin’s first official novel. I learned that he previously wrote some chic-lits using a pseudonym.
The main character, who is the girl in the train, is a middle-aged, unemployed and divorced alcoholic named Rachel. Despite losing her job months ago, because of going to work drunk, she still takes the train to and from Euston every day. She does that to fool her always worried housemate, Cathy. On his journey to and from her supposed to be “work”, the bus always stops outside a neighborhood and coincidentally it’s Rachel’s old neighborhood. The place where she and her ex-husband, Tom, lived and where his new wife, Anna, and their small daughter now lived.
But it’s not their house that she’s fascinated about. It’s a different house where a couple lives. It already became a habit for her to look at the tenants of that house whenever the train makes its sudden stop at the particular part of the railway track. Rachel becomes totally immersed with the lives of those strangers that she always see through the windows of the train. She gave them names, Jason and Jess, and mentally pictured how their day to day life is going and how the two are enjoying their married life, always kissing and hugging, in contrast to what she has. Then one morning, she witnessed a scene she hoped she never saw that shattered her illusions about the seemingly perfect couple that she’s always been imagining. Soon after, the woman in the couple disappears. She then took it to herself to help solve the mystery. She’s convinced by herself that she knows what happened but she can’t just remember it. She then pieced everything together starting from the night she found herself home full of bruises and cuts all over her body which was the day Megan went missing. A mystery that she didn’t know she’s connected to. She approached the authorities but who would believe a lady who’s always drunk and seldom sober. She then took the matters to her own hands. Rachel made herself a detective.
The book gave me a lot “edge-of-your-seat” moments. It took me time to be fully engaged to the book because I easily get confused with the changing of perspectives and also the dates on each chapter which moves from past to present. The author was able to keep the story’s momentum but I must say that the pacing at some part of the book is slow and dragging.
I like how the book was told in multiple perspectives. Details about the disappearance were revealed from the perspectives of the main women characters in the book: Rachel; Megan (Jess), the missing woman; and Anna, his ex-husband’s new wife. Because of that I was able to enter their minds to fully understand their actions on the book.
One thing that I also like is how the author didn’t shy away from using flawed characters and I believe that that’s one of the reason why this book is genuine and unique on its’s own. The characters were amazingly and interestingly portrayed. The characters are multi-faceted and realistic. Not entirely likeable but you find yourself empathizing with them.
I love how the author played with the scenes and kept me guessing. The author was very effective in making me feel that nobody can be trusted. At some point, I felt like the writing is very hypnotic that I have myself glued to the book.
I can’t comment yet on this book being a clone of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn because I have not read that book yet. Yes, I have watched the movie but knowing how movie houses alter scripts. Both are crime/psychological/thrillers and both book focuses on missing girls but with what I watched from Gone Girl, the stories didn’t take the same route.
The book talks about how much we sometimes pre-judge people by what we see and from our limited knowledge of them. The book teaches people to always know a person deeply before judging them. Majority of the time that I was reading the book, I was fascinated at how the book turned out something that I did not expect. I never thought that I would learn something from this book. The book is indeed fascinating.
4 stars out of 5.
“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps”
― Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train