Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

Today I'm reviewing The Girl on the Train by British author Paula Hawkins. The novel is a psychological thriller revolving around a murder case, and many have dubbed it "the next Gone Girl." What's more, it spent 13 weeks as the number one book on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 list.

I actually listened to the audiobook version of this novel, but it still counts, right?

Rachel is an unemployed, divorced alcoholic in her 30's who pretends to take the London train to work during the week. One day, she sees something suspicious out of the train window. This occurrence lands her smack in the middle of a murder mystery case full of love, jealousy, and mystery.

The Girl on the Train  has three separate narrators: Rachel; her ex-husband's new wife, Anna; and the victim of the murder, Megan.

For the most part, The Girl on the Train was exciting, suspenseful, and mysterious. I was completely drawn into the story and kept trying, unsuccessfully, to predict the results of the murder investigation. Since I listened to the book while driving, I actually found myself sitting in my car at rest stop parking lots because the plot was too good to turn off. That said, some pieces of the story were also dry and uninteresting. The first couple of chapters were especially hard to get through because they seemed to drag on.

In addition, all three narrators (Rachel, Anna, and Megan) are completely unreliable. I've never read a novel with so many unreliable characters, and it's a refreshing new angle that kept me on my toes. However, the unreliability made me dislike all of the characters in one way or another. I didn't feel emotionally connected with anyone, which made it hard for me to care what happened to them.

Another drawback is that the author jumped between characters and dates in order to advance the plot. In other words, the novel constantly went back-and-forth in time. This scattered timeline didn't bother me too much, but I read other reviews that said the skipping around confused them.

Finally, I never actually read Gone Girl (it's on my list!) so it to The Girl on the Train.

The Audiobook experience: 
I wanted to download an audiobook from Audible for a long car ride and decided on The Girl on the Train – partly because the plot seemed interesting, and partly because the 11-hour runtime would keep me occupied throughout the drive. Since the novel has three narrators, the audiobook has three separate speakers. Each one had a British accent because the novel takes place in England.

This was actually my first time listening to an audiobook, and I was quite impressed. My car ride flew by because the story managed to entertain me for hours. All in all, I had a nice audiobook experience.

Rating: 3.5/5
I enjoyed the idea behind The Girl on the Train, and the storyline completely engrossed me. However, I had problems with certain aspects of the book mentioned earlier: the unlikeable characters, the dull moments in the plot, and the skipping around between time and characters. I feel like the author could've told the same story in half of the amount of pages. Therefore, I give The Girl on the Train 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Have any of you read the book? What's your opinion?

Photo from Amazon