Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Audible
Content Alert: swearing, sex, vivid descriptions of domestic violence

The Girl on the Train is the it book of the moment. I've heard it called "The Next Gone Girl" several times. My husband called me from the bookstore on Valentine's Day to see if I had read it, apparently because there was a huge stack of books on display, and not because of what the book says about the enduring power of married love. But I'd finished the book earlier in the week, and he was back to the drawing board, trying to find me something I hadn't already read.

Over the last few years, Rachel has been in a slow descent. First, she couldn't get pregnant. Then she started drinking a little more than she should. Then she learned that her husband was cheating on her. Then she moved out to a rented room even further from London and the pregnant girlfriend moved into her house, which Rachel had to pass on the train to work every day. When she got fired for drinking too much, she continued to go into the city each day, and peering into her old home and the home four doors down, where "Jess and Jason," the perfect couple she liked to watch from the train window, lived. Then Jess disappeared, and Rachel's life gained a purpose-- find Jess.

The Girl on the Train is a thriller, and Hawkins does a lovely job unfolding some of the surprises of the story in the early parts. The middle part of the story felt a little boring-- I think it would have been a better story if it were 50-75 pages shorter. The narration of the audiobook is fantastic, with three women taking the roles of Rachel, the new wife Anna, and "Jess." I figured out the whodunit part of the story about halfway through, and sometimes I wanted to fast-forward to the inevitably gruesome conclusion. It's a good story, but one that does not benefit from the comparison to Gone Girl, because it raises the expectations too high.

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