The Girl On The Train: 3 out of 5 stars

*May contain character spoilers – read with caution*

So I finished it. I liked it. Maybe.

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but compare it to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

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EVERY DAY THE SAME
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’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.

UNTIL TODAY
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?

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I’m not entirely sure how to review this book because I’m not entirely sure if I enjoyed it or not. Here is what I do know:

Enjoyed:

  • Unreliable narrator
  • I was hooked on the narrative style
  • Thriller vibers

Disliked:

  • All the characters in this are fucking annoying – especially the main one
  • The twist is pretty predictable and not overly satisfying

“I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.”

The problem that I have with this book isn’t that it couldn’t hold my attention because at the end of the day, it could. I couldn’t wait to pick it up in the morning and I couldn’t wait for work to finish so I could read it on the train home. My real issue is that every fucking character in this book is the worst and I felt no emotional attachment to any of them. The only character I liked is named Evie…and she is a baby.

Unreliable narrators aren’t a new concept by any means and as a lover of thrillers, I do like when you can’t trust your main character. However, if you’re going to have a character like this at the helm of your story, it’s important to make sure they are likeable; Rachel was not that. A manipulative alcoholic, Rachel comes off as pathetic and overly annoying – at least to me. I couldn’t sympathise with any of her feelings and was frustrated that she did nothing to help herself in her day-to-day life.

Even though the whole book centers on Rachel inserting herself into the investigation and making decisions despite the consequences, anytime she did something that was clearly thought up in a drunken state, I wanted to throw my book at someone on my train. Rachel easily blurs the lines between fantasy and reality and it was only when the two would coincide did I take any notice of her.

The other characters in this book are nothing to write home about. They are just as manipulative, just as arrogant and their interactions with each other were just as painful to read.

I think you’ve probably figured out how I feel about the characters now, so let’s move on.

“There’s nothing so painful, so corrosive, as suspicion.”

The writing in itself is quite compelling and the narrative style was pretty interesting for a thriller but I personally found that the twist fell flat and by the end of the book I could care less who lived or died. I did think that the alternating character POV chapters were written really well and in terms of dropping clues were extremely effective, however because of this, halfway through the book it becomes obvious who the real culprit is and therefore I muddled my way through the rest of the book.

This might not be for me, but I can definitely see why it has had so much praise from other fans. If you think this might be up your alley, I recommend reading some other reviews on Goodreads. Vicki over at The Page Turner wrote a great review that would be worth checking out too. I may have read this at the wrong time but I personally don’t understand the hype. If you loved it or hated it I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Side note: I adore Emily Blunt so am still pumped to watch the movie – maybe it translates better to film.

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12 thoughts on “The Girl On The Train: 3 out of 5 stars

  1. Lauren Busser says:

    I honestly felt the same way about the book. I listened to it as an audiobook and while I enjoyed the three actresses voicing the characters I thought it got repetitive after a while because it sounded like the alternate points of view just affirmed Rachel’s suspicion. Like Rachel’s keen observations couldn’t be wrong except for the fact that she has a chunk of time in which she was black out drunk that she doesn’t remember. That is what drove me absolutely nuts.

    Like

  2. Sascha Darlington says:

    I don’t remember if I wrote a review for this on goodreads or not, but for me, the character of Rachel was spot on. I remember feeling mortified for her and could understand her trauma and even if I felt like she was just pushing ahead her own destruction, I wasn’t apathetic toward her. She was causing her own downfall by letting things get out of hand, and I guess, personally I’ve seen or experienced that so I had sympathy. I don’t remember feeling much for any of the characters in Gone Girl, although I thought it was a pretty good story. Unfortunately I think Gone Girl has now led to novels just hinging on the unexpected without substance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrenee says:

      I’m glad that she was a great character for you – Rachel seems to be one of those hit or miss characters. I definitely can understand why she works well within this type of story, but for me the issue was I found her frustrating – which I think changes the way you enjoy a story. I see what you mean about Gone Girl influencing newer thriller-esque novels too.

      I’m glad that I posted this review because I love hearing all these different opinions from mine 🙂

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  3. vickgoodwin says:

    I agree with your description of Rachel. She makes decision while she is drunk, half drunk or hung over. That was why I never agreed with her decisions. Having her as a less than likable character to me was a strength of the book. She was trying to do right while being a bungling drunken mess.

    The realism of a drunk trying to make a difference made me like the book. 🙂 I found it just crazy enough to like it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lauren Busser says:

      Yes, Rachel’s alcoholism was a strength of the book. It wasn’t her strength, but I think part of why I found her the most interesting was because she was struggling with herself the entire time. She kept saying she wanted a drink but she needed to stay sober because she had to figure out what happened to Megan. That’s really what kept me reading or I probably wouldn’t have finished the book.

      Liked by 3 people

      • mrenee says:

        It’s so great that we all see Rachel’s role in this book differently even though we all see her the same – does that make sense? Haha.

        I also agree with having to give an author credit for keeping you hooked on a book. The reason I kept reading this wasn’t because of the characters but because of the narrative style – I can’t deny that Paula Hawkins weaved a wonderful web no matter how much I disliked the characters.

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