Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Page Count/Review Word Count: 416
First off, I appreciate that I’m late to the party. People have been raving about The Girl on the Train for the last couple of years, and there’s even a movie out starring Emily Blunt – whoever that is. I haven’t seen the movie, and I’ve only just read the book. It didn’t live up to the hype.
Oh, sure – it was a competently written thriller, and it did have an interesting take on how a story should be told. And it was a professional quality release. It’s just that expectations were high and it failed to deliver.
The narrative is effectively told in the form of three written diaries, which follow the stories of three different women, and it often jumps backwards and forwards through time. Each of the characters are fundamentally unlikable, and so as a result of that, I found myself not really caring what happened to them. For the first half of the book, I found it difficult to tell who was who.
I’d also heard a lot about the twist at the end, but even that was an anti-climax. That’s probably because I figured out what had happened and so it wasn’t much of a twist – it was just the plot continuing and rolling towards its inevitable end. Then there was Rachel, the alcoholic, who felt like too much of a cliche. Alcoholics are easy to write, because they’re predictable – and the influence of the alcohol on the plot was too predictable, too formulaic.
Still, it was a decent enough thriller, even if it did feel paint-by-numbers. I can see why it might appeal to people, but I also feel as though it would only be hailed as a masterpiece by people who only read a half dozen books per year. It just didn’t feel revolutionary, and that was disappointing.
Overall, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this one, but if you’ve seen the movie and enjoyed it – or if you’ve heard so much about the book that you’re determined to read it – then feel free to give it a go. And it does have its plus sides – it’s entertaining enough, and it won’t take you too long to read it.
I read the bulk of it on the train home. I was the boy on the train reading The Girl on the Train.