Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Main themes: Betrayal, Psychological
Rating: 4 stars
The Girl on the Train mainly follows the narrative of Rachel Watson, an alcoholic outcast who’s life just seems to go from bad to worse. Every morning she takes the 8.04 train to London Euston and every morning, she stops at the same red signal, just outside a row of trackside houses. This is where Rachel usually catches a glimpse of ‘Jason and Jess’, a couple she imagines to have a picture perfect life, kind of like the one that used to belong to her. One day, she witnesses something that shatters her perception of the golden couple and it’s not long before Rachel’s life spirals out of control as she finds herself interfering with what begins as the disappearance of ‘Jess’…
I have to say, I enjoyed this book because it was a true thriller in every sense. I could have never foreseen the ending and so for me that makes the book a successful mystery. I think Hawkins planted many successful red herrings; I definitely found myself making all the wrong assumptions about the characters despite trying to think outside the box! Man, I couldn’t guess anything right but I loved that throughout the story, I was proven wrong and wrong again with every new piece of information that was given because it kept me engaged with the storyline, and made me want to read on.
I found that the writing itself was a little plain but thought that the plot made up for this. Hawkins structured the story well; I was completely invested in the storyline and where it was heading so personally, I wasn’t bothered too much by the simplicity of the writing. I thought using Rachel’s frequent blackouts due to her excessive drinking was a good way to intentionally leave readers in the dark. It helped create suspense and I found that I wanted to read on so that I could fill in those gaps.
The book alternated between the narratives of Rachel Watson, Megan Hipwell, and Anna Watson. This is something I liked because the chapters were like puzzle pieces and they helped you piece together theories (even if mine were wrong) about the culprit and they helped to build different perspectives of the different characters. I also found that this wasn’t really a book where you could become attached to the characters and for me, I didn’t really relate to any. I did feel really sorry for Rachel though, from pretty much the beginning of the book. She really is at an all time low in her current situation and so you can’t help but want people to understand her, to give her a chance and for her to get better. I thought her friend, Cathy was good to her. I also felt sorry for Megan Hipwell but I can’t really explain why as it’s a bit of a spoiler! I disliked Anna from the get go so I wasn’t really a fan or her chapters. But having said that, I don’t think it was really necessary to become attached to any of the characters because again, it’s just more about the plot and the development of story.
So overall, I’d say The Girl on the Train is a great read because it does exactly what it’s supposed to, provide an unpredictable story that will leave you racking your brains for a plausible theory that can explain ‘whodunit’. I was shocked at how the story took a pretty dark turn near the end but it made the culprit seem 10 times more creepy and chilling which I guess, is what the author was aiming for. I do think that if it was written with a bit more flair then it would have been the perfect novel but overall I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for any fans of mysteries and thrillers!