Monday, March 2, 2015

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Published:  1/13/15 by Penguin 
Pages:  336
Format:  Hardcover

My rating:
4 out of 5 stars

I devoured this whole book in less than 24 hours. An easy and intriguing read. A psychological thriller that reads like a summer beach read. The Girl on the Train is told from the point of view of three women, all who are linked to the disappearance of Megan Hipwell. Rachel, who routinely rides the commuter train into London each day, witnesses something from her seat on the train that might help discover the truth about Megan's disappearance. But Rachel turns out to be a very unreliable witness, who might be even more connected to the crime than she knows. The story alternates between women and between time periods as the pieces of the mystery slowly shift into shape.

I really did enjoy reading this book. I liked the concept of the train and how it was integrated into the story. The characters are all messed up and slightly unreliable and a little bit psychotic. Which I loved. It is hard to tell whether the people telling this story can be fully trusted, and I love the mystery and intrigue that adds to the story.

The Girl on the Train has been hyped as the next "Gone Girl." I'm getting a bit annoyed with publishers advertising all new twisty thrillers as the next Gone Girl, as it sets up readers with unfair expectations. However, I have to admit that it probably is good marketing, because I tend to read all of them. And since publishers want to compare this book to Gone Girl, I thought I would do my own comparison. (The following might give slight spoilers for both Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, so beware!)

1. Psychologically disturbed female characters. Both Gone Girl and Girl on the Train feature some really messed up women. I do find this interesting, and I enjoyed reading about these flawed characters in both stories.

2. Vulgarity and Profanity. I found Girl on the Train to be much less vulgar than Gone Girl, which I thought was unnecessarily vulgar in its language and content at times. Girl on the Train is far from a squeaky clean novel, but I do think it is better than Gone Girl in this category.

3. Twists. Gone Girl wins here. The Gone Girl twist caught me completely off guard. (And I also had the luxury of reading it blind, not knowing that a twist was coming). I was expecting some major twist in Girl on the Train, but it never came. I didn't think the mystery of "who did it" or "how did they do it" was really that surprising at all, and because I was expecting a Gone Girl like twist, I was a little disappointed by this.

4. Writing. Another win for Gone Girl. I just loved Gillian Flynn's writing style. Diary Amy was written with so much wit and some of her writing about life and love and marriage was thought provoking and interesting (though I obviously didn't agree with it all). While Girl on the Train was a fun book to read, I didn't find much food for thought in the writing.

Regardless of what you thought of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train stands on its own as an intriguing thriller. It's worth a read, especially if you enjoy stories with messed up (and often unlikeable) characters.

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