Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is an exciting thriller about what you might notice when you are looking out the train window on your daily work commute. Girl on The Train is a book that has a similar feel, at least at first, to the Hitchcock classic Rear Window. Whether right or wrong, Rachel, the observant commuter, inserts herself into the lives of the people who live outside her train window. Rachel begins watching this couple because she sees how perfect and loving they are towards each other. But, the more she watches what is going on outside her window, the more she notices the cracks in the façade.
The novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has been talked about and praised since its publication for its style, intrigue, and social commentary. When this book was published in February of 2015, it was immediately compared to Gone Girl. The reasons it is being compared is because both books have strong female characters, and both books include multiple points of view, which is a very intriguing and unique method when mysteries are involved. Just as there was a lot of hype surrounding Gone Girl, there is a lot of hype with this book. I liked Girl on The Train a lot, but it is not Gone Girl. It does not strive to make any strong social statements and perhaps it is better for it. Unlike Gone Girl where a lot of what we see is the façade, the flaws of Rachel make this a really exciting story. Not only do we see what it might be like for someone with an addiction (Rachel is an alcoholic), but we also learn that we can’t necessarily trust the main character’s point of view. As Rachel attempts to piece together her alcohol soaked memories of what she has seen, we are right there with her trying to make our way through the fog. I found myself becoming just as frustrated as Rachel became as she struggled to solve the mystery with only bits and pieces of a memory to deal with.
Just like with Gone Girl, however, I find myself having to be vague in my review because there is a lot to this story that is revealed as the story progresses. This aspect only adds to the mystery and intrigue. I do love a good mystery and that is why this book will probably be one of my favorites of the year. The flaws and the honesty of the characters in the book were really refreshing and a reminder that what you see is not always what you get. As someone who knows and loves people who struggle with alcoholism, this novel also gave me an understanding of how an alcoholic might see themselves an how they would justify their actions and behaviors. According to an interview with the author, living in the UK has given her ample opportunity to see how alcoholism affects people’s lives. She did read about alcohol-induced blackouts and used what she learned to make her novel seem as realistic as possible. The novel was quickly snatched up by Dreamworks to be made into a movie, and it was recently announced that Emily Blunt would play Rachel (I think this is an excellent choice). This novel will make for a fun movie to watch.
This was a really fun book to listen to and a bit of a departure from the Stephen King brand of thriller that we have come to know and love. The audiobook version of this book was really great. There were three different narrators to stand in for the three different characters that shared their point of view with the audience. I always enjoy having multiple narrators, and for that reason I highly recommend this book. I look forward to seeing what is next for Paula Hawkins.