The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I’ve got to stop giving in to peer pressure. And by peer pressure, I mean best seller lists. Over and over, I read about how The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was comparable to Gone Girl. So wrong, and so false. Gone Girl was a page turner that made me forsake dinner, my DVR’d shows and sleep to continue reading. The Girl on the Train reminded me of high school assigned reading that I had to finish because I knew there would be a quiz.
I loved Gone Girl. The book and the movie. I had to read The Girl on the Train. Two trusted friends suggested it, too.
I added the title to my hundreds-long To Read List on Goodreads. I figured I had time. Then I learned they were planning to make a movie adaptation. I still had time.
They made the movie adaptation. Still had time.
They released the first trailer. Still had time.
My friend and I planned to see it opening weekend, but it corresponded with another film whose box office sales I preferred to support more, so we postponed. Still had time.
My spidey sense never misleads me. I knew to proceed with caution. I borrowed a copy from the library and didn’t make a trip to my beloved Strand bookstore.
The “girl” in the title is Rachel, a young divorcée who rides the train every day so that her roommate/landlord doesn’t discover she’s been fired from her job. During her daily jaunts into the city, the train on which she rides passes by the home she once shared with her now remarried ex and by the home of a couple she dubs Jess and Jason.
Rachel’s imaginary fabrication of Jess and Jason being the perfect couple is shattered when Rachel, from the train, witnesses Jess kissing another man in the couple’s backyard. Shortly afterwards, Jess whose real name is Megan is reported missing and later found dead. Taking her obsession to the next level, Rachel becomes entangled in solving the murder. Complicating matters is that Rachel is a known blackout drunk.
With such a storyline, the novel had such great potential. It really did. The narrative voices alternate between Rachel and Megan, and the timeline jumps around. While this is not unusual in novels, it didn’t work here. I never felt any tension. Early on into reading, I narrowed the murderous culprit to two suspects. One of them was it.
Part of the fun of reading a novel is the journey it takes you on from beginning to end. What should have taken me a week to read, stretched into two and not because I wanted to prolong the book. I found myself skipping lines, paragraphs and even whole pages just to get to the end. Yet, I missed nothing. No questions were left unanswered.
A fairly new bad habit of mine is starting several books at once and taking long times to resume, not because they’re bad, but because I keep starting new, good books. I forced myself to stick with this book because it was a library book with a long waiting list of others wanting to read it, and because I had a movie date to watch the movie adaptation. If not for those reasons, I would not have accompanied Rachel on her ride.
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