Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Star rating: 3.5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

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…

General information: This was published in January 2015 by Riverhead Books.

My thoughts:

This was my second ever thriller! And my second ever ‘meh’ thriller.

Don’t get me wrong, it was tense and twisty in all the best ways. But in other ways, it was meandering and a tad predictable.

The writing itself was good. It kept me engaged, but not quite as engaged as I expected- I didn’t want to stay up late reading or anything, so it didn’t quite grip me like I wanted it to. Maybe that was just personal preference, I don’t know.

I felt like the characters were done well- everyone was extremely unlikeable but fleshed out, with maybe one or two notable exceptions at the end. No spoilers, but I felt like by the end, certain characters were relegated to stereotypes in ways I didn’t enjoy.

I did enjoy the journey of the main character and the depiction of her drinking problem. This book comes with a lot of trigger warnings that I’ll put at the bottom of this review. I liked where she ended up as a person and I felt her growth was done well.

However, the plot felt a tad meandering at some points. It was mostly Rachel trying to figure out what happened with varying levels of success. It was also mostly just Rachel putting herself in various bad situations. It would have been different if it was a mystery-style book where she was actually investigating the problem, but she just kept inserting herself in these people’s lives for no good reason.

The main twist at the end- the whodunit, so to speak- also fell flat for me. By halfway through the book, it felt a little predictable. The first half of the book, I read because it kept me guessing, but through the second half, I read because I wanted to confirm my theory.

Now getting into content warning/spoiler territory.

There were depictions of gaslighting that I felt were done really well, so I appreciated that. However, it felt like all of the female characters were defined by their status as a mother and nurturer- whether they wanted to be pregnant, didn’t want to be pregnant, were mothers, etc. I definitely didn’t appreciate that part. It would be one thing if I felt like the book investigated what it meant to be a mother, or to want to be a mother, but it didn’t feel that way to me.

Overall, I enjoyed this read so I’m still giving it 3 and a half stars. I don’t think I would read it again, though, and I’m not totally sure if I recommend it.

Content warnings:

Alcoholism, domestic abuse, abusive relationships, death, child death, violence, grief, mental illness, fatphobia

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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