Name: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Number of Pages: 384
Published: 15th January 2015 by Transworld
Genre: Mystery Thriller, Psychological Thriller
To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.
Just goes to show.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together.
Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn’t have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.
Tense, taut, twisty and surprising . . . The Girl on the Train creeps right under your skin and stays there. – from Goodreads
A word of advice before you start reading The Girl on the Train – clear out plenty of space in your routine/diary/day/schedule, because once this books takes hold it won’t let you go.
It’s such a page turner, every moment filled with suspense, tension and the need to know what is going to happen next. It was definitely one I resented tearing myself away from to tend to everyday things.
From the outset I became easily immersed in the world of Rachel, the Girl of the title, and that of Megan and Scott, a couple whom Rachel happens to see each day when her train stops at the signal, affording her a chance to glimpse their day to day lives and imagine their story.
The narrative also follows Anna and Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband. Their home also looks out onto the train line, meaning Rachel is constantly reminded of her past as she travels back and forth, which sometimes seems to fuel her troubles and compulsions.
There are many troubled characters, each with their own demons and secrets. The veneer they present to the outside world is just that, as becomes apparent through the glaring contrast between the lives of Jess and Jason (the fictitious names Rachel assigns to Megan and Scott as she observes them and paints for them an idyllic life of bliss) and the far more real, far more flawed Megan and Scott.
At first Rachel’s watching of her golden couple appears a harmless diversion, until one day she sees something which may actually be incredibly important, which leads her to become involved in the case of a young woman’s unexplained disappearance.
Given Rachel’s troubled history it’s a risky place for her to be, but she feels compelled to become involved, actively seeking out both the attention of the police and the company of the man at the centre of it all, driven by her desire to make amends.
Rachel is an unreliable narrator as she experiences blackouts, often alcohol induced, and cannot recall anything about that time. Her desire to regain her memory sees her research methods to regain these memories but this proves fruitless, so you’re left questioning just what exactly Rachel does know, and what on earth happened during that fateful missing period of Saturday night when Rachel came home with a head injury but no memory of how it happened. Tiny flashes and glimpses come back fleetingly, leaving both Rachel and the reader questioning fact and fiction, and it makes for a very exciting read.
The narrative moves between Rachel, Megan (the woman Rachel has seen from the train) and Anna, who is now married to Rachel’s ex-husband Tom. The timeline shifts from past to present accordingly, but each new chapter has dates, so it’s easy to keep up.
Small clues are thrown in here and there, but I admit I didn’t work out exactly what was going on. There were little details which stood out for me, and I knew they were going to be important, but putting them together, well, I didn’t, which all increased the tension of the read.
The writing is great, and you find your alliances and sympathies shifting with each new revelation regarding the three central narrators. You may end up surprised at where your eventual sympathies lie, and the characters who may outwardly appear the most sympathetic could be anything but. Add to this the unreliable side to some of the characters and you’re in for a rollercoaster of a read.
I could talk at length and in depth about this book, because it really did grip my attention, but part of what makes it so compelling is the mystery, so let’s just say you won’t regret devoting your reading time to The Girl on the Train, and if it hooks you like it did me then it won’t take you that long to read either – just try putting the book down to get something else done – it’s difficult. I was snatching pages and chapters at every spare moment I had because I just had to know how the mystery would be resolved.
I’ve not read much in the way of psychological thrillers but if there are more out there which prove to be as good as this book then it’s a genre I’ll probably be making more room for on my shelf in the future.
Great read – what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a copy!