Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins - Book Review

5/5 Stars

You don't know her.

But she knows you...


Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 316
Chapters: 38
Publisher: Doubleday

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Holy crap. I say that a lot, I also said it a lot throughout The Girl On The Train. I was engrossed in The Mortal Instruments series, but I'd read so many YA Fantasy books that I needed a little break. A thriller break. This is the book that stared me down; the book whose reviews are overwhelmingly positive. So I grabbed it from my shelf and settled down to judge the hype. I knew, not even fifty pages in: It deserves every piece of hype it's earned. The Girl On The Train is a thriller that you have to pick up. I mean now, please go get it. It's utterly addictive, its story, its characters and pace, all of it is so bloody addictive. And the emotions... The roller coaster this novel puts you on is beyond intense.

Rachel is 'The Girl On The Train', she looks out at the same scenery day after day, escaping from her own life by creating stories for what she sees.
Especially 'Jason and Jess', the two people whose house the train almost never fails to stop at. She's created the perfect life in her head for them; a life she wishes she had.
But when she witnesses the unthinkable as she stares out of her train, she doesn't quite realise what she's been drawn into.
The danger of what's to come...

The Girl On The Train ticks every thriller box available: It's sharp, shocking, spellbinding. It does everything right in my opinion and wraps it up in a fast-paced style. Once it pierces your skin with its metaphorical hooks and reels you in, that's it, you're in it till the end. One thing I can't praise enough is its unpredictability. For me, it's perfectly ambiguous throughout the entire story, I had many theories and thoughts on what was happening, and while what happened was one of those, during the book it was no more likely than the ten other scenarios I cooked up in my head.

It's the characters that are at the forefront though. It's where I feel a lot of the comparisons to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl comes from. They're dark and burdened and verge on being truly horrible people. But where Ms Flynn's characters are mostly despicable - which is not a flaw, her characters are by far the most interesting ones I have ever read - Ms Hawkins focuses a lot more on making her cast more pitiable. As a reader, I can see their flaws, but in the end can't help but feel extremely sympathetic with them. Their motivations and everything that makes them who they are is truly heartbreaking at times.

I also like the unreliability of our narrators. One's an alcoholic, one's a liar and one's a cheat - well, actually, they're all a lot of each - but the story and the characters themselves are always in doubt, we question with them absolutely everything. One thing though about the first-person narrative for all three that irks me is their likeness. I sometimes can't really distinguish their voices, and it's thanks to the wealth of fantastic character building and their histories that keeps them from bleeding into one another.

And the feels, God. Intense is the most apt word for it, but for elaboration - and because the idea for said elaboration came to me after seeing a particular music video on TV, try guessing which one - here's more: The Girl On The Train is like a wrecking ball made of wool that you have no choice but to cling to, and the wall you're swung at are thick barbs of razor wire and nettles. In essence, you'll need a strong stomach and nerves of steel, two things I don't have.

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