Book Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

“And I’ve just got to let myself feel the pain, because if I don’t, if I keep numbing it, it’ll never really go away.”

― Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train 

British author Paula Hawkins' 2015 psychological thriller The Girl on the Train features three separate women's perspectives on relationship issues (induced by coercive/controlling males) and, for the main protagonist, drinking. On February 1, 2015, the book debuted at the top of The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 list (print and e-book), where it remained for 13 weeks straight until April 2015. It once again ranked as the best-seller for two weeks in January 2016. In several reviews, the book was alluded to as "the next Gone Girl," a well-known psychological mystery written by Gillian Flynn in 2012 that featured similar themes and unreliable narrators.

The majority of critics' and viewers' reviews for The Girl on the Train were favorable. It broke sales records for adult hardback books in 2015 and stayed more than four months on the New York Times bestseller list after its publication. Even the most knowledgeable readers will be in for a shock as Hawkins progressively unravels the facts, exposing the terrible reality of love and obsession's unavoidable linkages to violence, according to Kirkus Reviews, which complimented the book with a starred rating. The book was subsequently recognized by Kirkus Reviews as one of the finest fiction novels of 2015. The book also took in the Mystery & Thriller category's 2015 Goodreads Choice Award. 

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train.

My reaction to the novel...

I absolutely adore the book "Gone Girl," so when this book was published years ago and was compared to the Gone Girl book, I was overjoyed and eager to read it—especially after hearing a ton of constructive reviews from both friends and critics. I was hoping that this would be another excellent psychological thriller. I was drawn into the plot as soon as I began reading the book. I kept flipping the pages because I had to know what had occurred. Unfortunately, I anticipated the novel's ending from the start, which seriously diminished my delight of the narrative.

The wording in this book is excellent and very simple to read. Although the pacing is normally fast-paced, there was a point in the middle of the book when I felt like the action slowed down a little. In retrospect, I can see that this is especially true of me. The majority of the novel was pointless because I knew the ending of the book from the beginning. When the author might have led me in a straight line, I had the impression that she instead led me in knots. The plot twists are pretty obvious. It's fairly simple to make assumptions about what is happening, and sure enough, around midway through the book, I was absolutely correct. It wasn't a surprise that the finale came to that.

Since I enjoy books written in the form of narration from several points of view, I purchased this book in the hopes that it would be comparable to my favorite book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The Girl On The Train just drips tension so gently that it barely gets your toes moist; I was looking for something more along those lines with it. The way the tale developed wasn't really original or creative. Additionally, I didn't really see any character changes. I would anticipate the novel's few characters to be much more through this and for me to identify or get invested in at least one of them which the novel really failed to do so.

Because I was so disappointed by this book, I can only recommend that you read it at your own risk. This could be the book for you if you only prefer to read overrated novels over reading high-quality literature, enjoy mysteries with unusual characters, and don't mind a lot of internal monologue.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐(2/5)

"Women are still only really valued for two things—their looks and their role as mothers.”

Up until recently, women were often regarded and appreciated not for their moral character but rather for their physical characteristics and capacity for procreation. It is true that in certain nations, women who are unable to produce children are judged and given a lower human status. Your looks will also make you the target of jeers if it is unsightly. 

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

Trust provides tranquility into one's life. Suspicions will surface if that trust is betrayed. Furthermore, that suspicion is agonizingly unpleasant and has the power to obliterate every connection that has been painstakingly constructed. Suspicion is never at ease. It merely reeks of uncertainty and nasty hints.


Disclaimer: Booksreadbyhannel is not a business website. The opinions expressed here are unbiased and based only on my own feelings and reactions while reading the books I featured here in my blog. My reviews reflect my utmost sincerity. I paid for the books I review here out of my own pocket. Books provided by authors and publishers are otherwise specified.