The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins

Rate: 3.5/5 stars

I picked up this book at a resale shop, thinking, “This’ll look good on my bookshelf even if I don’t read it.” So kudos to cover artists. It makes a difference–despite the old adage, I’m pretty sure we all judge books by their covers. I didn’t read it for months (due to my growing reading list), but yesterday, this thriller sucked up my day.

The Girl On the Train starts with, well, the girl on the train. Rachel, an alcoholic divorcee, watches a young couple very day from the 8:04. Still scarred by her last marriage failure, she pictures them as the “perfect” couple. An obsession grows as she dives deeper into depression and alcoholism. But one morning, upon watching the couple’s yard, she witnesses a scandal she can’t help but think plays a part in the disappearance of the “perfect” wife the very next day.

I tend to dislike the use of multiple POVs in a novel as I tend to one care about one, but despise the others. However, Hawkins crafted the characters in such away that it works incredibly well. Each character has a separate personality and voice. When I became tired of Rachel’s absurdity, it’ll change to Megan (or Anna, who I found to be detestable). These are necessary to flesh out the plot and mystery.

Another note on the characters: I must know twenty different Rachels, a handful of Megans, and several Annas; I never once thought of Hawkins’ characters as having the same name as any of them. Until after I finished reading, I didn’t even think about it. Each of her characters are well-rounded and complex.

The mystery in itself…honestly, disappointing. For me, at least. The entire novel is built around the idea that Megan has deadly secrets. And she does. But they turn out to be merely characterization. Considering the depth of these haunting secrets, I would have thought the emphasis on them would tie into the motive. The conclusion of the mystery left me feeling a tad cheated in that area. And as I reflect deeper into the conclusion of the mystery, I can’t help but feel that the motive is weak, but I can’t go much further into that without giving out spoilers.

“People are not always what they seem” is a good theme to describe The Girl On the Train. This is used throughout the novel as questions rise and answers are unearthed.

I enjoyed Hawkins’ first thriller, but Rachel’s stupidity (usually due to alcoholism) and the constant failure to answer questions frustrated me a little. Same old same old became boring and discouraging, but I continued for closure on the matter. And although a tiny bit disappointed, the final twist appalled me.

Overall, The Girl On the Train is a great read, and I would recommend it for thriller and crime mystery fans. I’ll definitely be looking for more of Hawkins’ work in the future.

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