Written by Lauryn Smith and Beth Winters
Paula Hawkins’s recently released novel "The Girl on the Train" has taken the literary world by storm. In fact, it has been dubbed the new "Gone Girl." The story follows Rachel, an alcoholic who spends more time focusing on the lives of others, specifically a couple she sees every day from the train, her ex-husband and her ex-husband’s new wife and child, than dealing with the reality of her own. More than one Reviewer wanted to to see what all the hype is about. Check out our thoughts below.
Did you like the book? Why or why not?
LS I quite enjoyed the book… at least until the story’s conclusion, which I found a little Scooby-Doo-esque. You know, the villain reveals his or her master plan to an audience after getting found out. Until that point though, "The Girl on the Train" is a true page-turner in two regards. Firstly, at the end of each section, I just had to know what happened next, and secondly, the writing style facilitates quick reading. A worthy beach read in every sense of the phrase.
BW I was not a huge fan of this book. I do not think the story was planned as well as the book jacket makes it seem. There seems to be times when writing that Hawkins was simply going, "Oh shoot, forgot to wrap this part up, I should probably do that,” and rushed to conclusions. I had such high hopes for this book but was not impressed. Hawkins uses many cliches and ideas from other books, so the story does not feel original. My opinion might be different had I not read "Gone Girl" prior to "The Girl on the Train."
Is the plot engaging? Did the story interest you?
LS I am a sucker for mysteries, so I was hooked as soon as a certain character goes missing. Plus, I grew up with a dad very interested in trains. This trait must have rubbed off on me a bit; I enjoyed the prominent focus on the protagonist’s daily commute on a London railway.
BW The plot is OK. I like a good mystery, so I enjoyed the first-person perspective, which makes it possible to learn what and how events happen at the same time the characters do. The story gets slow in the middle, though. It feels like it is all about Rachel’s drinking problem. I would have liked to know more about why she starts drinking in the first place, but in my opinion, there is not much discussion of what prompted her alcoholism. Honestly, I finished this book only because I wanted to know how it concludes and the reasons why a certain character is killed. However, an interesting aspect of the book is that for each change in point of view, a time and date is given. It is a cool way to track what is happening to each character and when. Hawkins also does a good job giving Rachel clues of what actually happens to the murder victim before turning to other characters’ perspectives to flesh out the story.
Were you surprised by the plot’s complications, or did you find it predictable, even formulaic?
LS There are small surprises here and there, but nothing gasp-worthy. I do not think a huge twist would have been appropriate for this story, though. In reality, there is only so much excitement in suburbia, which is where the story takes place. If Hawkins tried to wow readers with too many grand curiosities, the believability of the plot would have lessened. The drama inherent to the characters’ histories and personalities is plenty.
BW I did not know where the plot was going, although I did figure out who the murderer is with 50 pages still left in the story. The murderer does not bring anything new to the table in terms of motive, and I was a little bummed I did not find the reason for the murder more interesting. I would also say that the book ends with a much more gruesome scene than I saw coming.
How would you have reacted to a problem or situation like one in the book?
LS I would not have the gumption to lie and wiggle my way into the lives of those involved in an investigation the way the protagonist, Rachel, does. Granted, I also have no inclination to dwell on a couple I have never met and imagine for them a fairytale-worthy relationship. When Rachel tells the police a piece of information she feels will help the investigation along, I thought she was rightful. Her actions afterwards? Questionable.
BW I honestly do not know how I would have reacted to any of the problems presented in this book, and I really do not want to imagine myself in any of them. I think it would be very interesting to solve a murder case, but I would go about it in a much different way than Rachel does. I might have explored some avenues on my own but eventually stopped. It is not like I am a real investigator. I certainly would not have gone anywhere near the murder victim's husband like Rachel does.
Would you recommend the book? To whom?
LS Anyone who has time to kill—whether it be while soaking up rays on vacation, waiting to meet a friend for coffee or even procrastinating on that project your boss asked you to complete—this is your book. I would recommend getting a jump on it. There are talks of DreamWorks making a film adaptation of "The Girl on the Train," with Emily Blunt in negotiations to star as Rachel.
BW People should read this book simply because everyone else is currently reading it. Who wants to be left out of the conversation? I do not think "The Girl on the Train" a great book per se, but if you like mysteries, lots of drama and suspense, this one is right up your alley.
Some questions courtesy of LitLovers
Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication date: January 13, 2015
Page count: 336
List price: $26.95
Awards: 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery & Thriller; 2016 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year; 2016 Woman & Home Reader's Choice Award for Best Thriller Of The Year
Nominations: 2015 Waterstones Book of the Year Nominee
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