Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: The Girl on the Train

Summary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. 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’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 offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as 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. -- Riverhead

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins is out today, and I suspect it's going to be a huge hit. I just finished this novel on Sunday night and I couldn't wait to share my thoughts with you. This book is fantastic! It's intriguing, suspenseful, and most definitely played with my mind -- talk about an unreliable narrator. Even though it's only January 13th, I know this book will be one of my favorite reads for 2015!

If you are a frequent follower of my blog, then you might remember that I'm kind of burned out on unreliable narrators. I loved the concept in GONE GIRL, but it's seemed like far too many novels have tried to capitalize on it in recent years. I've even gone so far as to say that I feel almost manipulated with unreliable narrators. However, after reading THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, I can say say that if an unreliable narrator is done well, it's a wonderful thing!

In THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, Rachel is an unreliable narrator and I mean that in the very best way possible. She rides a commuter train every day, despite losing her job a few months ago because of one too many drinks at a business lunch meeting; and she has created a story around one house she sees. Rachel has named the couple Jason and Jess, and she has imagined a life for them that includes everything she desires... everything she thinks she's lost since her divorce.

Strangely enough and probably a bit of a torture for her, Rachel also passes her old home (just a few doors down from Jess and Jason's house) in which her ex-husband and his new wife and baby now live. Truth be told, Rachel is a bit of a mess (or rather a HUGE mess.) She has no job, continues to drink way too much, and calls her ex at all hours of the night. Her ex's new wife is less than thrilled with Rachel's behavior, and she's very near her breaking point!

One day, Rachel sees "Jess" kissing another man, and Rachel's image of their perfect life is shattered. When she discovers that Jess, really Megan, has mysteriously disappeared, she feels obligated to report what she's seen. She calls the police and then tries situate herself into "Jason's/Scott's" life. There is no way Scott could have killed his wife -- she "knows" him. Rachel becomes very involved in helping Scott, probably too involved; and she finds right smack dab in the middle of the mystery surrounding what's happened to Megan.

Wow! Just wow! This book sure is something I've been in a bit of a reading slump and this book definitely hit the spot. I honestly couldn't put it down and that's really saying something given my current reading patterns. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is exactly the type of thriller I love -- smart, complicated, and even a bit twisted. I truly didn't know what to think.

And that is mainly a testament to Ms. Hawkins' writing style. She managed to write an intriguing thriller with a most memorable narrator. In fact, Rachel just might be the most unreliable narrator I've ever encountered in my reading, and I couldn't get a grasp on her. I didn't find her likable one bit and I even found myself getting mad at her for a number of reasons -- her abuse of alcohol, her self-pity, her nosiness, her lies and even her lack of judgment. However, in a strange way, I wanted her to be good and her intentions to be honest. I guess you could say I was rooting for her... kind of.

As far as mysteries go, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN had a good one. I was blindsided a few times and the ending sure did pack a powerful punch. I honestly can't get over how well written this novel was. The storyline was terrific, but so many things could have gone wrong in the execution of the story and characters. I'm so happy to say that Ms. Hawkins did everything right -- this novel is a winner!

I discovered that the book has already been optioned for film by Dreamworks, and I'm so not surprised! I can only imagine how it will translate to the big screen! I'm sure it will take years, but I'm anxiously awaiting the movie. In the meantime, I just hope Ms. Hawkins is busy at work with another thriller!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Kay said...

And this is the 3rd really positive review I've read of this book. Yes, I'll be reading it soon. I concur about the unreliable narrator trend. It makes me think and pick apart the book, but too many of those books are kind of like eating too many pieces of candy. Overload. Thanks for sharing!

bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too and still need to write my thoughts down. I was on pins and needles as I read it.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I was at a presentation by a Random House rep in Sep where he predicted this one would be big! I haven't read it yet, but I plan to. Glad you like it!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Oh yeah I'm all over this one. I just ordered it from the library on audio. Can't wait!

Beth F said...

I can't believe I haven't gotten to this yet! I know what you mean about unreliable narrators: it doesn't always work well.

Michelle S said...

I'm reading this right now. I have to tear myself away from it in fact to get anything done. I can't wait to see how it all ends!

Kelly-Belly said...

I tried to get it from the library, but there were 213 holds. I just went ahead and ordered it...now just have to be brave enough to start it...he, he. :)

techeditor said...

I read this, too. Rachel is an unreliable narrator in the worst way possible--she's a raging alcoholic who is delusional as a result, and the whole book is figuring out what happened when she blackout out.

Beware if you've been married to an alcoholic. This may disgust you.