Speeding train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

“A compelling thriller with an imperfect protagonist that keeps you guessing until the end”

Genre: Thriller

Plot

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will stop and wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of houses and back gardens. She even feels like she knows the residents of one of these houses. ‘Jess and Jason’ she calls them. To Rachel, their lives are perfect. If only she could be as happy as they are. But one morning, she sees something shocking. The train only sits still for a minute, but it’s enough. Now everything has changed. Rachel has a chance to become a part of Jess and Jason’s lives. Now she’s much more than just the girl on the train.

Why I love it

I didn’t get very far in this book before I was hooked. I was desperate to find out what Rachel saw that changed her life forever and yearning to discover how events would unfold and end. Rachel is a protagonist who lends herself so much sympathy, not only because of her divorce from Tom, but also because of her drinking. It was quite frightening to read how she could not remember what had happened the previous night because she was so inebriated. I felt terrified when I tried to imagine myself in her position.

Rachel’s status as an unreliable narrator is a very good technique by Hawkins because it makes the reader so conflicted. On the one hand, you empathise with Rachel because of her alcoholism, but on the other hand you really want her to take back control of her life and stop drinking.

It was very compelling when Rachel could not remember what happened one night. All she had were snippets of memories, and cuts and bruises the following morning. I was eager to read on to find out what had occurred and what she did. When she began to piece the flashes of memories she had together, I was really supporting her and wanted her to remember what happened for the sake of her own sanity as much as to know the truth myself.

Another strength of this novel is its alternating chapters. It’s great for creating intrigue as I tried to see how Rachel’s, Anna’s, and Megan’s lives all intertwine and connect together. Anna is a character that I could not help but detest with her nasty, jibing comments at Rachel. Anna’s selfishness and possessiveness of Tom does anything but lend her sympathy from the reader.

The ending is tense and full of suspense, with a shocking revelation thrown in, as well as twists and turns that keep you guessing until the penultimate chapter. The conclusion also offers hope for Rachel as she is determined to stop drinking.

Overall, The Girl on the Train is a compelling thriller with an imperfect protagonist that keeps you guessing until the last page.

Why you should read it

If you enjoy books that are tense, with a flawed main character and enduring whodunnit question, this is one for you.

Rating: 4/5

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