Monday, 9 February 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book is absolutely everywhere at the moment. If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that I can’t stand not getting in on a book hype, so with this newest thriller causing a storm in the book charts, I had to see what all the fuss was about. 

We meet the main character of Rachel, who catches the same commuter train every morning and in her routine she passes the same set of houses on a road that holds particularly poignant memories for her. 

One house on the street that she passes is inhabited by a couple that she does not know but sees regularly on her train journey, so she names them Jess and Jason, and imagines the life they lead together which is so different from her own.

 One day, she sees something shocking at the house and she suddenly finds herself involved in the lives of the couple she had invented and the people they actually are. Books like this are hard to describe without giving away the whole plotline, and not regurgitating the blurb, so I’ll try not to give away too much. 

I really liked the idea of the commute where Rachel has basically invented characters for the people she watches. I think we are all guilty of that at times (I know I am!) so it was interesting to read how she clashes with the real life versions of the people she portrayed in her head.

Rachel is a meaty main character with plenty of demons in her past including alcoholism, which bleeds into her present day life. I thought she was really well written and a great basis for the dark narrative that unravels around her. In my opinion, small character casts are great for the more turbulent stories like this, as you really get a sense of each person and the simplicity seems to make for more intense drama.

People are calling this book “the new Gone Girl” which is a phrase that is quite overused these days given the international success of the thriller by Gillian Flynn. I think as it is in the same vein of storytelling, I can see the comparison makes sense and probably will appeal to fans of Gone Girl (as it did to me) although I do hope that for more books like this, we can stop making such generic comparisons and promote it on its own merits. 

Cleverly crafted and addictive in its tale, I definitely recommend The Girl on the Train for thriller fans, and if you are a commuter yourself, I suggest it even more!


  1. I agree with everything, especially your note about Gone Girl. I said something similar in my review: while they will both appeal to people with similar tastes, comparing *everything* to Gone Girl does both Gone Girl and the thing you're comparing a disservice. Read things because you're interested in them, not because they're "the next Gone Girl/Game of Thrones/Harry Potter/whatever. :)

    1. Thanks Bridget. I really liked the style of TGONT, especially the London / commuter parts which are pretty relevant to me. As much as I loved Gone Girl too, there wasn't that personal connection, so I really wanted to review this book as a separate entity. Glad to see someone feels the same way! :)