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Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (Review)

Adult, Thriller, Murder Mystery
Publication.Date  January 13th 2015
Published By:  Riverhead Hardcover 
AuthorPaula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher via First To Read program
Where to get:

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives.

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?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.


There's a filthy, low-slung concrete building on the right-hand side of the track about five hundred metres before we get into Euston. On its side, someone has painted: LIFE IS NOT A PARAGRAPH. I think about the bundle of clothes on the side of the track and I feel as though my throat is closing up. Life is not a paragraph, and death is no parenthesis.
Hollowness: that I understand. I'm starting to believe that there isn't anything you can do to fix it. That's what I've taken from therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps. All these things I know, but I don't say them out loud, not now.


     The Girl On The Train is the new phenomenon fans of Gillian Flynn and S.J.Watson will be obsessing over. It's the next BIG thing. It's that sort of book you want to devour at the speed of light but also slowly sip, tasting every page, every paragraph, every word... All at the same time. The writing has this addictive quality, irresistible pull, hypnotizing chemistry. It's a masterpiece through and through. I inhaled it like a junkie.

     There are three girls that play big parts in this story. The hopeless alcoholic who couldn't hold on to her husband and her job, and who now pretends to go to work every day because she's afraid to admit to her friend that she's now jobless - that's Rachel. Then there's Megan. On the surface she's the flawless housewife, artsy, classy and happily married to a handsome and caring Scott. In reality, Megan's life is built on lies and secrets, and her marriage with Scott is strained to say the last. Finally, there's also Anna. The "other woman" who became the replacement for Rachel, and who is now living with Rachel's ex husband in Rachel's old home, sleeping in Rachel's bed, cooking in Rachel's designer kitchen, enjoying a life she stole from Rachel.

     One day, on the train ride to her fake job, Rachel witnesses something. There's a couple she sees almost every day on her way to London, people she made up names for and created whole imaginary lives for in her head. They are always so perfect, so in love. She loves watching them. But then, one day, she sees the woman (who is Megan) kissing someone who clearly isn't her husband (Scott). And the next day Megan goes missing. And the story of lies and deception begins. 

     This book reminded me of both Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep and I couldn't help but draw parallels. It's not that the plot line seemed similar, because it's really a completely different and original story. It's more that the writing is of similar quality, the plot is just as twisty and dark and the story sucks you in and holds you captive, demanding to be read in one sitting. It's the same kind of reading experience, and I just loved it. 

    Such finely, artfully crafted plot line. So fresh, so substantial, so gritty! Full of blood chilling secrets and tantalizing revelations. I was obsessed with this story, with the flawed and messed-up characters and their complicated, tangled-up lives. I couldn't get enough of that stuff. The Girl On The Train is a very intense and dark story. No character is without fault here, no one is purely good and entirely innocent, but at the same time all of the characters (well, all except one!) have some redeeming qualities. They're not bad, they're just kind of lost, kind of unhinged, kind of desperate. I found their stories thoroughly fascinating to read about.

     The murder mystery is at the core of the plot line. The missing girl. The mysterious man kissing her the night before. The controlling husband. The disturbing past full of blood-chilling secrets. The unreliable, untrustworthy witness. It all messes with your head and keeps you at the edge of your seat. You feel that you can't trust anyone, the lead character (Rachel) included. You wreck your brain for answers and you come up empty. If I am to be honest, I figured out what happened to Megan about 2/3 through the story. It was mostly a guess, but I had a bad feeling about one particular character, and as it turned out, I was right. That didn't take away from the pleasure of reading this book at all, though. The ending was truly breathtaking and I now can't wait for Hawkin's next book to come out! 

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