A while back, everyone was raving about this one book with the plot twists to end all plot twists: “The Girl On The Train”. Last Fall, I had already put Paula Hawkins’ debut novel on my To Read list (as you can read right here) only I hadn’t got around to reading it until the last couple of weeks. The novel is being adapted into a feature film, starring Emily Blunt and Luke Evans, and the first trailer was just released – and it looks amazing. The trailer promises a film that’s dark, sexy and mysterious. When I started reading the book, I had high hopes it would give me the same feeling as the trailer.
Unfortunately, it did not.
“The Girl On The Train” is about Rachel Watson, a troubled young woman traveling back and forth to London on the train. On her daily journey, she travels past her old neighborhood, where she once lived with her ex-husband. Now, Rachel is an alcoholic and is reminded every single day of the life she could have had. She watches her ex-husband Tom and his new wife Anna, but also a couple from a few houses down, Scott and Megan Hipwell. Rachel imagines what their life together must look like and soon becomes obsessed. Until one day, she witnesses something horrible.
The plot premise reminded me a lot of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling thriller “Gone Girl” (2012), which I absolutely loved. It was dark, sexy and mysterious – with one of the best plot-twists I had ever read. I hoped “The Girl On The Train” would be similar and on the surface, it was. It’s dark, a little sexy and definitely mysterious, only where “Gone Girl” really went into the depths of that darkness, “The Girl On The Train” only touches the surface. I think this novel could have been so much more, so much darker and sexier, only it wasn’t, which was a huge disappointment for me.
One of the things that kept the novel on the surface, was the main character, Rachel Watson. She’s a tragic character, with no self-esteem or realistic grasp of her life. Day by day she takes the train into London and watches the people in the house she had lived in; it’s tearing her apart. Rachel’s spiraling and she takes the reader down with her. I personally could not emphasize with Rachel at all, and although I don’t think it’s a prerequisite to like a novel, I do feel with helps to really feel the story. And because I didn’t feel Rachel – at one point I really started to dislike her – I also couldn’t really feel “The Girl On The Train”.
One thing that I did find interesting about the novel, is the fact that it switches between narrators and thereby time. As a reader, you switch between Rachel’s perspective and Megan Hipwell’s and Anna’s (the wife of Rachel’s ex-husband, you still follow?), which allows you to witness all sides of the story. On the one hand, it’s really interesting to read, because you get two completely different stories woven into one narration, but on the other hand, I feel like it gives away some of the important plot twists. The parts narrated by Megan are written in such a way that it’s trying to hide these plot twists, only in my case, it didn’t really work. By the time these twists were revealed, I didn’t feel surprised.
Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading this book. I finished it in only a matter of days. Even though I disliked the main character and I felt like the story gave too many obvious hints, I still really wanted to know what had happened. And in the end, that’s what makes a good thriller – desperately reading because you want to find out the horrible, terrible truth.