The Girl on the Train: Book Review

the_girl_on_the_train_us_cover_2015 Book: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Penguin Group

Year: 2015

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 336

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ – Very good

Who’s going to be in the movie?
Emily Blunt (Anne Hathaway’s fashion-obsessed co-worker in The Devil Wears Prada, John Krasinski’s wife)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho, Rachel Green’s Jennifer Aniston’s husband)
Haley Bennet (Cora from Music & Lyrics, the vengeful wife in The Magnificent Seven)
Allison Janney (Anna Farris’ MomJuno‘s mom)
Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay)

When can I watch?
Right now!

What’s it about?
The story is told from three women’s perspectives. The chapters alternate from Rachel’s narrative (~the girl on the train~), Anna’s narrative and Megan’s narrative.

Rachel is a bit of a big ol’ mess. Her ex-husband left her for another woman, she became an alcoholic, her alcoholism lost her her job, and when she blacks out (which is frequently) she calls/harasses her ex, Tom. Even after Rachel loses her job, she takes the same train to London every day to hide her unemployment from her roommate. She is obsessed by this one house on her route and makes up imaginary lives for the couple living there. Then one day Rachel sees something upsetting as she passes the house and chaos ensues.

Anna is Tom’s old mistress and new wife. She is young and beautiful (as mistresses/second wives tend to be) and a stay-at-home mother to Evie, her and Tom’s baby. Anna hates Rachel. She used to enjoy flaunting her relationship with Tom in front of Rachel, but is now annoyed and frightened by all of the harassing phone calls and visits from her.

Megan is missing. Hers is the only perspective told from the past. Rachel’s and Anna’s narratives start from just before Megan goes missing, while Megan’s narrative is leading up to her disappearance. Megan and her husband Scott are neighbors to Anna and Tom and she helps Anna care for Evie.

What did you think?
This is one of the many books I’ve read because it was marketed as “the next Gone Girl” and it was definitely the closest to reaching that standard. They both had alternating perspectives, a missing woman, page-turning suspense, “Girl” in the title, and a lackluster ending.

Overall I really liked The Girl on the Train. Even though I found Rachel to be extremely frustrating as an alcoholic who is frequently making poor choices, but books wouldn’t be very interesting if they were filled with characters who were great at making decisions all the time. But I liked Rachel for all of her issues. Well, I liked reading about Rachel– not sure I’d be her BFF, but her chapters were the most interesting to read. There’s also something to be said about the “at least I’m not that much of a mess” factor. Reading about Rachel makes you feel good about you. Or as the Germans say, schadenfreude.

The biggest pitfall to having altering narratives throughout the book is that if there’s one character/storyline you are not interested in then there’s a lot of boring chapters for you. While I didn’t feel that negatively about Anna’s chapters, seeing her name at the start of the chapter was slightly deflating. Granted, I still enjoyed reading them to figure more of the story and moving the plot along. But Anna was the most boring of the three women for me. I didn’t dislike her narrative, but I think just by having three different narrators my instinct is to rank them (1. Rachel, 2. Megan, 3. Anna).

Being mostly a really good read, my actual biggest problem was with the end. Without talking about what actually happens (no spoilers here) I’ll just say that it was disappointing. Not as disappointing as the Gone Girl ending, but it was no Fight Club.

Should I read it?
Yes! Especially if you like thrillers– and not to sound like everyone who’s trying to advertise any thriller right now…but if you liked Gone Girl, you’ll definitely like this. You can buy The Girl on the Train used on ThriftBooks.

Here’s the The Girl on the Train trailer (it shows a lot IMHO, watch at your own discretion):