Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel’s life isn’t what it used to: she’s a divorced alcoholic who’s living in her friend’s house. The highlight of her day is watching out of the train and following the life of a happily married couple — a couple she’s never even met but feels as if she knows them. One day she sees something shocking in the perfect couple’s house and even though she shouldn’t interfere, she can’t let it go. This could finally be her chance to prove she’s still more than just a girl on the train.

The_Girl_On_The_Train_(US_cover_2015)

Rachel struggles with her divorce. She still calls her ex-husband, Tom, and even goes to his house sometimes. Her constant drinking and blackouts mean she doesn’t always remember what she’s said or done the previous night, and that’s causing trouble with Tom’s new wife, Anna. Anna wants nothing more than to be rid of Rachel but so far it hasn’t happened.

Rachel’s daily commuter train passes her previous home and regularly stops in front of another house along the same street. Even when drinking causes her to lose her job, she keeps up the appearance, riding the train every morning and evening. In the house along the tracks, there lives a perfect couple who Rachel calls Jess and Jason.

One morning she witnesses a scene that breaks the perfect illusion. She should ignore what she saw but a chain of events has already started to roll and there’s no way she can stop being involved now. But reality turns out to be far, far away from what she’s imagined…

This story is told from three perspectives and it alternates between flashbacks and present moment. At first I was afraid that so many PoVs would be confusing, but they all felt like their own characters and really helped to keep the story moving forward. Each had their motivations and backgrounds, and I wanted to know more about them all. Switching PoVs also helped create more suspense and mystery into the book.

Our main character Rachel was especially interesting because while I liked her, there were also times I really disliked her. Sometimes she was annoying and off-putting, but I suppose that was one big reason why she felt so much like a real person. People aren’t perfect and everyone has flaws — some people a bit more than others.

The plot folded at a good pace and I was never bored, not even at the beginning. Whenever I thought I had the story figured out, something new came along and pulled me even deeper.

There were a lot of flashbacks so the story didn’t unfold linearly, which added even more mystery. There were a few times when I thought the flashbacks were unnecessary, for example when we followed a character in the morning and then suddenly jumped into the evening, when most of what happened was the character telling us what else they did that morning.

All in all the book held my interest well and especially towards the end it was hard to put it down.

I’d recommend this book for those looking for an entertaining thriller with realistic characters. It does deal with some gritty, dark themes and there wasn’t much humor, so just be prepared for that.

∗4/5∗

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