The Girl on the Train

I had heard plenty of hype over the past few months about the release of Paula Hawkins’ debut novel, The Girl on the Train, a psychological thriller. The premise sounded interesting: a woman on a commuter train sees something through the window as she passes that becomes very important when the woman she saw suddenly disappears. Muddling things considerably is the witness’ tendency to binge drink, and the effect that has on her memory and therefore her reliability as a witness. Her life has been sliding downhill rapidly and while she very much wants to help make sure the guilty are charged and (just as importantly to her) that the innocent are not. But the police can’t rely on her, and she can’t retrieve cohesive memories either.

I felt frustrated with Rachel as she goes on repeating the same mistakes over and over, and her life continues to unravel. The premise made the psychological side of things spin out slowly and effectively, but ultimately I didn’t love the book. I did not feel it had the same impact as Gone Girlthough clearly it was aiming at the same audience.

When the answers come, there is an effective and mostly satisfying resolution. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from reading this; indeed, I’m glad I read it. But I will be surprised if I find it on any of my “best of 2015” lists in a few months.


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