The buzz surrounding The Girl on the Train (January 2015) is well deserved. It is a suspenseful, quick, absorbing read that I thoroughly enjoyed. Much like Hitchcock’s Rear Window, it takes a close look at human nature and our voyeuristic tendencies. Curiosity about the people around us drives the story line, which is what I loved most about this well-written debut. Just like when you pass an accident on the highway and can’t look away, The Girl on the Train is hard to break away from. I read it in just a couple sittings.
I was immediately drawn to the main character, Rachel, and shared in her curiosities. Rachel rides the commuter train into London every day, seeing the same houses and the same people—both aboard the train and passing by through the window. Her favorite house and couple to watch happens to live in the neighborhood she used to reside in with her husband Tom. Bitterness cuts through her thoughts and feelings surrounding her broken relationship with Tom. She is clearly jealous of the happiness she imagines the couple she calls Jason and Jess share. But as the reader soon finds out, this couple is far from happiness.
Hawkins takes control of the suspense by offering three distinct first-person narrators: Rachel, a fragile, drunkard with a vast imagination; Megan, the woman Rachel calls Jess who goes missing; and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife. These three women provide their own unique perceptions of the events surrounding Megan’s disappearance and the subsequent investigation. I found them each to be intriguing and couldn’t wait to read on as one narration ended and another picked up. The pacing was spot on and made for quite a suspenseful read. The reader isn’t quite sure what is going on until the last few chapters. It is here that the author reveals all. And boy is it worth the wait!
This book is hard to put down. Fans of Chevy Stevens, Gillian Flynn, and S.J. Watson will certainly want to add this book to their reading lists. Its wide appeal makes it a great book not just for readers who specifically enjoy thrillers, but also those who enjoy smart fiction. The Girl on the Train is a solid novel and hopefully the first of many for Paula Hawkins. I am certainly looking forward to her next release.
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