The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
2015 Riverhead Books
Finished on January 24, 2015
Rating: 4.5 (Terrific!)
The train crawls along; it judders past warehouses and water towers, bridges and sheds, past modest Victorian houses, their backs turned squarely to the track.
My head leaning against the carriage window, I watch these houses roll past me like a tracking shot in a film. I see them as others do not; even their owners probably don’t see them from this perspective. Twice a day, I am offered a view into other lives, just for a moment. There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.
Someone’s phone is ringing, an incongruously joyful and upbeat song. They’re slow to answer, it jingles on and on around me. I can feel my fellow commuters shift in their seats, rustle their newspapers, tap at their computers. The train lurches and sways around the bend, slowing as it approaches a red signal. I try not to look up, I try to read the free newspaper I was handed on my way into the station, but the words blur in front of my eyes, nothing holds my interest. In my head I can still see that little pile of clothing lying at the edge of the track, abandoned.
There she sits, the girl on the train. What she sees, gazing out the window, will change everything.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She looks forward to it. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
This chilling psychological tale has everything: Obsession, jealousy, scorned lovers and canned gin & tonics. Definitely not a good mix. With alternating points-of-view and multiple flashbacks, Paula Hawkins has herself a best-selling thriller that never loosens its grip. From cover to cover, this debut is one intense read!
As usual, I went into this book completely blind, which is exactly how everyone should approach The Girl on the Train. Spoiler-free. Remember when everyone was reading Gone Girl, but couldn’t talk about it? Or looking further back, there was all the hush-hush about The Sixth Sense and Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island. Even the season finale to The Sopranos had everyone tightlipped. Well, I can’t talk about this book. The most I can do is give you the publisher’s blurb and a few quotes from those who have read and loved the book, just as I have. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. Then let’s talk!
What really makes The Girl on the Train such a gripping novel is Hawkins' remarkable understanding of the limits of human knowledge, and the degree to which memory and imagination can become confused. (NPR.org)
Psychologically astute debut . . . The surprise-packed narratives hurtle toward a stunning climax, horrifying as a train wreck and just as riveting. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)Ok. I'll tell you a little more.
I finished The Girl on the Train almost a month ago and I still think it’s outstanding read, one I know I’d like to eventually listen to on audio. It’s not great literature, but it’s without doubt a breathtaking thriller, which pulled me in from the opening lines and didn't let me go until I finished the very last paragraph. Yes, all of the characters are unlikeable and I especially had a tough time with Rachel's constant drinking problem, but Hawkins does such a great job making the reader care just enough to want to continue and find out how it all ends. I knocked it down from a perfect 5/5, as there weren’t any lyrical passages to mark and the ending felt a little anticlimactic, although I usually feel that way about most mysteries/thrillers. It's the getting there that's all the fun.
If this is Hawkins’ debut thriller, I can’t imagine how amazing her second endeavor is going to be. Someone buy that woman a cabin on a lake and let her write another book! Until then, I’ll be first in line to see this on the big screen. Move over, Gone Girl! This one’s got you beat. I think Patricia Highsmith and Hitchcock would approve.