"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins | Book Review

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Page Count: 319
First Published: January 13, 2015

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You know when a book is compared to another great book, but doesn't live up to the claims, and you as the reader end up disappointed? This is how I feel about The Girl on the Train, which people keep comparing to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Now, I knew better than to expect a similar story, but I did expect the quality to be comparable. It's not. Here's the thing: The Girl on the Train is a pretty solid mystery thriller, and if you love the genre I think you will definitely enjoy it, but I don't think it's anything particularly special.

The story is told from three different perspectives, but our main character is Rachel—a woman with a drinking problem, who takes the same train to work and back home every day. She observes the same streets, houses, and people going about their daily lives. However, one day Rachel sees something unusual that has a strong effect on her, and she just can't let it go. That's all you need to know about this book.

I think my biggest issue was that I didn't like any of the three women from whose perspectives the story is told, and it's hard to enjoy a book when you don't like anybody. I could definitely understand Rachel making bad decisions—she's an alcoholic, and for someone in her position she actually seemed pretty reasonable. However, the other two ladies I occasionally wanted to slap around with a dead  fish. They frustrated me to no end, and seemed incredibly immature. What's sad is that most of their problems stemmed from the fact that they were bored, and creating drama was the solution, apparently. Because if you're married you most likely sit at home and don't know what to do with yourself. Right.

I can’t do this, I can’t just be a wife. I don’t understand how anyone does it—there is literally nothing to do but wait. Wait for a man to come home and love you. Either that or look around for something to distract you.
— Paula Hawkins

As a psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train was reasonably entertaining—the concept was intriguing, and towards the end it definitely gained intensity. However, I can't say I was particularly surprised by anything. The writing itself was pretty plain as well, and I wish that the three women had more distinct voices. I was never confused about whose perspective I was reading from, but that had more to do with plot than personality. 

Overall, I liked The Girl on the Train, but it definitely didn't live up to the hype for me. What I do want to recommend is the audiobook: the three narrators did a fantastic job bringing personality to the three POV characters. I actually wish I would have listened to the entire book instead of reading a physical copy.

Have you read The Girl on the Train? What did you think?