The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I had never heard of Paula Hawkins before reading this book, and according to the back of the book, The Girl on the Train is her first thriller. She has followed it up, however, with another thriller called Into the Water that I look forward to reading. If it is anything like her previous New York Times Best Seller, I will love it.
I read this book in one day with my sick daughter laying in my lap watching cartoons on a loop. I had heard that it was meant to be similar to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and that was enough to pique my interest. Gone Girl is another book that I gobbled up, but we can talk more about that in a different review. I will say that fans of Gone Girl won't be disappointed with this book.
Similar to Gone Girl chapters bounce around from one narrator to the next, each of them as unreliable as the previous one, and each one only giving small fragments of the story at a time. It makes for an interesting look at the power of perception when multiple narrators describe the same situation but in very different ways. The book is designed like a puzzle. You pick up one piece at a time, slowly filling in all of the blank spaces, until you finally can see the whole picture.
The main narrator is Rachel. Very quickly we learn that she has a severe drinking problem. Her frequent blackouts make her an incredibly unreliable narrator. In fact, that's actually part of the plot of the book. She feels that she can't trust her memory, but something has happened and she's determined to find out what.
Her part of the story is told mainly in moments of her on the train to and from London each day. During her commute, the train always pauses briefly in front of a house, whose two occupants live wonderful and lavish lives inside Rachel's imagination. She even has names for them, Jess and Jason, and has created intricate backstories for them inside her head. Things go wrong, however, when she sees something that doesn't fit into the picture of them that she's created. Before long, she becomes tangled in a messy mystery, where she isn't sure what to believe anymore.
The book is as much about Rachel's drinking problem and unclear past as it is about the present. She drinks to forget, but what is it she's trying to let go of? She seems to be as addicted to the story developing around "Jess" and "Jason" as she is to alcohol, which drives her to insert herself into dangerous situations over and over again.
I read and watch a lot of crime dramas, so it's not very often that I find one that surprises me. The Girl on the Train surprised me. The desire to fill in all the missing pieces of the story is what makes this book so hard to put down. You know a book is good if I'm willing to tire myself out and make myself dizzy so that I can finish it!
Basically, if you like mystery/thrillers, go get this book right now. You can use the handy link at the top to utilize your Amazon Prime membership and have the book delivered to your doorstep in just two days! (I know that sounds like I'm selling Prime memberships, but that's just because I loooove my Prime membership since I have to do basically all of my shopping online.)
Check out the book and make sure to come back and tell me how you felt about it! I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm hoping to soon. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how well the movie holds up to the book.
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