The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

23 Aug 2015

Talk of this book has been everywhere this summer. I've seen it advertised at every station I fly through on my train to work and it's already confirmed that it will be turned into a Hollywood film. Naturally, I had to see what all the fuss is about.

The Girl on the Train is a great one to read if you yourself are a commuter. We've all sat in Rachel's seat; staring blindly out the window imagining possibilities and places we'd rather be. We all know (whether we like it or not) aspects of our journey off by heart; the Sainsbury's just before you go into the tunnel before your stop, the cat that always sits a little too close to the track, the houses you can see into when your train stops at a red signal...

Every day, Rachel gets the same train to work. Every day it stops at a red signal, briefly, along the row of houses she used to live in with her ex-husband, Tom. Where he now lives with Anna and the baby. A few doors down are 'Jess and Jason', the couple she sees on their terrace every day but doesn't actually know. 'Jess and Jason' have developed in Rachel's imagination but soon they will become a very real part of her life when she witnesses something shocking as her train passes by.

At heart, this is a classic amnesia thriller. A woman is missing, probably murdered. Another woman saw something crucial but can't remember. Both their lives are intertwined with the same people; people who have seen things, but not enough to put the whole picture together. However, what sets this thriller apart from many others, is the people who make it up.

There isn't one character in this novel that is particularly likeable. This is a risky move on Paula Hawkin's part and yet it works. The three female protagonists are all brilliantly flawed; enough to keep you gripped to their stories, not enough to loathe them. Certainly enough to make them realistically human, meaning each twist and turn of this dark, blurred thriller is believable and all the more creepy for it.

Rachel is an alcoholic. She's lied to everyone, doesn't accept help and has moments of irritating self-pity. She is not someone you have any desire to spend time with. But most of this is a result of a personal tragedy and a husband who chose to have an affair instead of supporting her through it. Likeable or not, you want her to seek some kind of personal justice for the way she has been treated, to gain closure and move on with her life. Somehow, solving the mystery of missing 'Jess' (A.K.A Megan) becomes her road to recovery.

An enthralling psychological thriller; tense and very creepy.