The Girl on the Trainby Published 13 Jan 2015
|The Girl on the Train.pdf|
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train...
The Girl on the Train Reviews
I tried to enjoy it! I swear I did! The hype told me that I had to!
I wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. I never really cared about the story and ALL of the characters were unlikeable. Sometimes characters are unlikeable in a good way, but not this time.
At no point was I excited to be reading this.
Side note added 4/5/2017: Kinda silly how “Girl” is in so many titles lately. It has to be intentional to ride the coattails of other successful titles. I noticed on my library site that there is another popular checkout called Girl on a Train - I wonder how many people thought they were getting the other one!
Update 4/14/2018 - Dropped from two to one star because renewed interesting in my review due to a suggested grammar correction reminded me how much I didn't like this book - so I couldn't stick with two stars.
this review and more on my blog -> mereadingbooks
Caution. There might be some ranting ahead.
This has frequently been called the next Gone Girl. And yes, that is to some extend why I wanted to read this. I wanted something suspenseful; an unreliable narrator; and lots of “what the hell?!”- moments. Out of these three things I got one – an unreliable narrator. But one written so clumsily and shallow that I was annoyed, not intrigued, by her.
The plot’s mystery falls flat because it is done in such a heavy-handed way. The shift between narrative points of view and the two timelines seem like an artificial way of keeping the reader in the dark. The alcohol-induced blackouts of the main character just add to that feeling. I constantly thought “oh, how convenient that she does not remember that” and “oh, how convenient she can recall a tiny detail now”. It was simply clumsy and trite.
However, the worst thing about Rachel, the protagonist and main narrator, weren’t the clichés about alcoholism and divorced women. These aspects annoyed me to no end but the absolute worst thing about Rachel and the two other female narrators was how pathetic they were. Throughout the book I got the feeling that Paula Hawkins must hate women; hate them with a passion. Women in this novel are portrayed as unstable (going on batshit crazy), weak, dependent (on men), and insecure. Every single woman mentioned defines her personality in relation to a man. They doubt themselves, their capabilities and decisions. The men, in contrast, are all mysterious but strong and sure of themselves. They are there to give definition and meaning to their wives, girlfriends, mistresses, and sons. Even those women on the side-lines of the plot are only defined by their relationships to men.
For instance, Rachel’s mother; she is only mentioned two or three times and the one time she actually gets a few lines is when she explains how she’s not able to help her daughter at the moment because she has a new “friend” and she doesn’t want to scare him off like that! Seriously? Also, Rachel’s roommate is supposed to be the one thinking clearly; she tries to keep Rachel sober and wants her to go to AA meetings, get a grip on life, and so on. Still, even the supposedly reasonable character is defined by her boyfriend. When she’s not home she is with him and when he is out of town for some reason she sits at home waiting for him. And these are only the minor female characters in this novel.
Rachel, Anna, and Megan are all pathetic in their very own way. They pine about the men that leave or reject them; they doubt their life decisions and still won’t change anything in order not to upset their men. And every single thought they have is about how their decisions or actions might affect their husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends, or lovers.
I know I’m ranting a bit here, but this really really annoyed me. I also know what Hawkins was trying to do. She wanted to show the dark side of domestic life – just like Gone Girl did. But in my opinion she has utterly failed to do so.
”Yesterday---sensible, clearheaded, right-thinking---I decided I must accept that my part in this story was over. But my better angels lost again, defeated by drink, by the person I am when I drink. Drunk Rachel sees no consequences, she is either excessively expansive and optimistic or wrapped up in hate. She has no past, no future. She exists purely in the moment. Drunk Rachel...lies.”
There are certainly worse ways to spend your day than riding an S stock train into London.
Rachel rides the train into London every day to keep up the pretense that she has a job. The truth is she lost her job months ago when she showed up to work inebriated, not just buzzed or mildly intoxicated, but sloppy drunk. She can’t exactly put her finger on when she first started to drink too much. It was around the time when she was trying to get pregnant with her now ex-husband Tom.
He impregnated his mistress instead.
”The dagger in my heart twists, round and round and round.”
Anna, slender little Anna, is now living in her house with her husband with a child that should have been hers. Rachel used to be attractive, curvy, and pretty, but now the curves have lost their buoyancy, and her face has become puffy. She is melting down into someone unrecognizable. The pain that used to be internalized is now manifesting itself into a grotesque mask. She drinks to escape. ”When I drink, I hardly sleep at all. I pass out cold for an hour or two, then I wake, sick with fear, sick with myself. If I have a day when I don’t drink, that night I fall into the heaviest of slumbers, a deep unconsciousness, and in the morning I cannot wake properly, I cannot shake sleep, it stays with me for hours, sometimes for days.” Drinking doesn’t work, not drinking is worse.
Sometimes she blacks out.
The problem with THAT is she loses so much control over what she does or what she remembers. When she blacks out she has to believe what others tell her. This is when she writes painfully embarrassing emails to her ex-husband. This is when she is capable of doing something that she would never consider doing sober.
The train takes Rachel by her old life every day. The subdivision with the beautiful house that she thought would be hers forever is part of her daily view. She can look right into the backyards of the homes, and there she starts to notice a couple, a perfect couple who seem to love each other. She projects a life onto them, even giving them names, and starts to look forward to any glimpse of them that will allow her to add to the fairy tale narrative that she has been assembling about them on her daily rides into work. Then one day she sees something that brings the whole house of cards tumbling down.
We can look at other people and think their lives are wonderful. They must be leading so much more successful and meaningful lives than we do. The problem of course is that we know everything about our lives. Every failure is duly noted on a spooling list. Our successes are tempered by our own feelings of inadequacies. Every debilitating slight to our self-esteem etches away at the foundation of our ability to see beyond the things that have went wrong. What we have to remind ourselves of is that, though people may seem to be leading perfect lives, everybody has problems. Don’t fool yourself, and don’t let them fool you either. We are all doomed to be disappointed, to falter, to make mistakes, and sometimes destroy ourselves. Scott and Megan, as it turns out, are no different. Her mythical couple have names as it turns out, not the ones she chose for them.
When Megan disappears Rachel realizes that she saw something.
The problem is she is an irresponsible drunk.
This book is certainly an ode to one of my favorite films Rear Window. (For those youngsters out there, you might be more familiar with the film Disturbia.) Jimmy Stewart is incapacitated with a broken leg, but Rachel may actually be more incapacitated by her drinking. Rachel is the definition of an unreliable narrator. I didn’t what to believe her, not necessarily because I felt she was lying, but because she was so wasted most of the time that even her version of sober might be my version of being buzzed. The characters in this book are not very endearing. As we learn more about them we find less and less to like about them. Be warned about these characters if you are a reader that must like the people you read about.
The plot certainly reminded me of an Agatha Christie. I often found myself munching down on a red herring served on a Ritz Cracker and washed down with a decent Merlot. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did the modern noir novels of Peter Swanson, but I don’t think I’m going to be forgetting this book any time soon. If that proves to be the case, I might even need to bump it one star.
There is talk of Emily Blunt starring in the upcoming movie which could lend the project some extra attention. This book, with this plot, should translate well to screen. Don’t feel guilty if you decide to wait for the movie. Paula Hawkins has laid out a script that shouldn’t need much tucking or trimming for the big screen.
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What a huge disappointment.
The concept sounded amazing, and it got off to a promising...if slow...start. But it quickly turned into this messy, melodramatic story that was neither surprising, or original. Much like in Gone Girl, there was not a single likable character in the entire book. That wasn't the main problem for me, though. I could see the ending coming from a mile away. Actually more like I figured out who the main villan was within the first 20 pages. Never a ringing endorsement.
"Something bad happened."
Are you ready for a faster-paced, creepier Gone Girl?
Woah. This is one unsettling little thriller and the best bit about it is that no one can be trusted, including the three female narrators who share the storytelling of this book. I literally read this entire novel in one sitting and I now need to find the words to convince you to go get your hands on it. RIGHT NOW.
Between an alcoholic, a liar and a cheat, who can you trust? These are the three women at the centre of this book: Rachel, Anna and Megan.
Have you ever sat on the train, glanced at the people around you or out of the window, and made up stories about them? Maybe you've even gone so far as to invent names for these people and imagine their perfect or not-so-perfect lives.
Rachel is that girl on the train who takes her mind off her own life by imagining the lives of others. Specifically the lives of "Jess and Jason" who live at the house outside her train window when the train stops at the same red signal every morning. But then one morning, things are not as they are supposed to be and Rachel sees something that completely shatters the "Jess and Jason" image which exists in her head.
Now she is pulled into their lives. Unsure exactly what she knows but certain she cannot rest until she finds out.
This book is just full of secrets. Everyone has them. It's about all the little mysteries that exist just outside of what we see on the surface. What goes on behind closed doors? How much can you ever really know a person? What horrors exist in that black spot of your memory from Saturday night?
It was fascinating, gripping and oh so very creepy. Hawkins has been added to the small group of thriller authors on my "must buy" list.
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