Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


I really liked this book. Despite the fact that this type of book seems to be at its height of popularity right now, I found it refreshing that Hawkins took a fresh spin on things. This type of book is of the genre I like to refer to as “Chick Suspense.” I derived it from the known informal genre, “Chick Lit.” Of course your average Chick Lit contains a female lead character with a series of events that usually have her crossing paths with a man with whom she may conflictingly become romantically entangled while discussing her life problems with her female best friend, or a sister, all coming to the standard conclusion of a general happy ending. Chick Suspense is a completely separate genre from this. I don’t particularly like Chick Lit, but the few Chick Suspense titles I have read have truly intrigued me. This genre features a female main character and these types of books usually follow a similar jumpy timeline. The author changes perspectives frequently and may go back in time and then suddenly bring the reader back to main story. At first I found this confusing but I eventually got used to it. I like the use of this form in order to create the suspense; just when you get really involved in a certain part of the story, it shifts to something else.

The Girl on the Train is one of many in this genre and it joins Gone Girl on the bestsellers list. I enjoyed Gone Girl because I never saw the twist coming. I never saw the supertwist coming that took place in the last few chapters of the book. I enjoyed The Girl on the Train despite being able to accurately predict the end, which normally would irritate me. For some reason this story still kept me fully invested even after I reached the point where I was pretty sure how it would end. I had this indescribable urge to see the story through to the end. I never felt particularly sympathetic to Rachel, the main character, because of her heavy drinking problem. I have family members who suffer from the same addiction so I am the last person to judge her but there were times when I was angry with her for her habit. So many of her problems could have been eliminated if she just put the bottle down! That kind of frustration was what attracted me to the book, however. I was clearly attracted to the main character enough to wish that she would do better for herself.

I loved the concept of an outsider looking in. Here is this seemingly unaware girl just riding on the train to work every day and she makes up the lives of the people she sees in their homes doing mundane, every-day tasks. It’s funny because whenever I ride the train, be it when I used to live near DC or when I visit friends in New York, I often think the same thing. When I see two people on their terrace during a week day, I wonder what they do for a living. When I see a young person wandering the streets I wonder what they’re up to. And, yes, when I pass a deserted field or a run-down mill or a closed brick building that looks like it could be haunted, I wonder if there’s a dead body hidden in there. It’s the writer in me I guess. Either way, her scenario is not far-fetched to those of us who are aware of our surrounding everywhere we go, even riding on a train.

Overall, I enjoyed to sense of realism this book offered and I liked the authenticity with which the author penned her story. I like that I was both attracted to and repulsed by some of her characters. I also enjoyed to pace with which she told the story; I was always waiting for more. I highly recommend this book to anyone who liked Gone Girl, and I also recommend it even it is outside the genre you typically read from. As anyone who follows my blog knows I am usually a fantasy girl, but I really enjoyed this book and it was a worthwhile read.

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