GirlontheTrainCoverBook: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Genre: Thriller/Suspense

My rating: 5 stars out of 5

I’m not often able to share books with my dad. I don’t read a lot of thrillers or crime novels. I read more YA, fantasy, women’s fiction, and romance (both historical and contemporary) – you know, happier stuff. I even read literary fiction sometimes. But, a friend recommended The Girl on the Train and so, when my dad got it for Christmas and finished it in something like two days while I was visiting him, I asked if I could borrow it.

And boy, am I glad I did.

The Girl on the Train is a unique read. Paula Hawkins writes in a strange, yet wonderful style. Each chapter is written from one character’s perspective, sort of a past-tense journal style. Each day is broken up into morning and evening, and the reader is told by the character what happened.

I’ll be completely honest and tell you that it took me a good while to get into the style, (and the characters, and the story). But once I did, I was hooked. I had a physical need to keep reading and figure out what happens (or, actually, what happened).

I had no idea what I was getting into when I borrowed this book. I hadn’t read a synopsis or anything. Weird, I know. I think this is probably what made it difficult to get absorbed into the world of the story. I knew it was supposed to be a suspenseful, exciting story, but it seemed to only be a sad girl commuting to and from work, and lamenting all the things wrong with her life. It’s a slow start, but on reflection, it is good character building and place setting.

But don’t you worry, the pacing picks up and, oh gosh, it gets intense. There is so much emotion in this novel. The characters all seem real and deep, and just, ugh. They have so many layers. I needed to know more about them. I constantly felt Hawkins pulling me, teasing me with information and then making me wait to figure out what the information meant. Her pacing was brilliant.

I felt a kinship to Rachel, the main character. She wants to be a mother and her inability to have a baby tears her life apart. Hawkins wrote Rachel in such a way that as much as you may not agree with her choices or even like her much, you feel her emotional pain and empathize with her. I was overwhelmed by my emotional attachment to Rachel and her agony.

I was also rewarded with a strong, satisfying ending. I like happy endings. And no, this ending isn’t all happy – but it has enough resolution that I felt fulfilled. I think this is why I so rarely read thrillers – I like happy, satisfying, fulfilling endings and you rarely get them in realistic, suspenseful crime novels.

The Girl on the Train is full of emotional commentary on marriage, relationships, manipulation, and self-esteem, and it’s all wrapped up in the mystery of an intriguing disappearance. If you want to try a thriller, give this one a shot. It’s definitely a book I want to read again.

    • Trisha Jenn Loehr says:

      Ach! Thank you! This is one of the most emotionally gripping novels I’ve ever read. I may need to start reading more thrillers. Any suggestions?

  1. Amen! I loved this novel. Have you read Gone Girl? This one was recommended upon completing Gone Girl – and I ALMOST preferred this one because it was a bit less graphic, but both are so strong in their own ways. Following this novel, I also read Disclaimer by Renee Knight, which was described as completing the “trifecta of domestic noir” started by Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train. Highly recommend both if you haven’t read either. All similar style in writing (with Gone Girl’s being the most inventive).

    • Trisha Jenn Loehr says:

      Thanks Todd! I’ve been hesitant to try Gone Girl as I’ve heard it’s pretty graphic. I may have to add it and Disclaimer to my TBR.

      • The movie is far more graphic than the novel, it just has a lot of language. The ending was SO polarizing and people are still talking about it years later, which is why I loved it so much.

  2. I listened to this as an audiobook. One of the best I’ve listened to. Not only is the story line engaging, the audiobook is mesmerizing. Narration really makes or breaks an audiobook. So glad you liked this book too. It reminds me of Gone Girl a bit, have you read that too?

    • Trisha Jenn Loehr says:

      I haven’t read Gone Girl yet! I’m a little scared to; I’ve heard it’s so intense. But it is on the TBR. I really enjoyed the Rosie Project on audio. Have you read it?

      • No but I have some audible credits to use so I’ll look into it 🙂 I think if I had known a little of what to expect going into Gone Girl it wouldn’t have seemed quite as shockingly graphic. I listened to it as an audiobook too (lots of long road trips with the circus haha) and it is wonderfully narrated but I felt a bit set up by the author so I was pretty angry during most of part two. However if you go into knowing a twist is coming, then it might not be as horribly jarring. If that makes sense.

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