The Girl on the Train Review
Updated: Feb 14, 2019
by Paula Hawkins
Published in 2015
The hype around the book Girl on the Train when it came out was unreal. I felt like I was seeing everyone on the train reading this book and seeing it in every book store right front and center. At the time that this came out, I wasn’t really interested in the thriller genre because I associated thriller with horror and I am a big scaredy-pants. However, I am so glad I read this book because it introduced me to how thrilling thriller novels truly are.
The book follows Rachel, a 32-year old alcoholic whose husband, Tom, left her for another woman, Anna. Rachel constantly gets blackout drunk in where she harasses Tom, with little memory of it the next day besides voicemails that say “leave my family alone”. Due to her drinking habits, she has lost her job yet continues to ride the train into town every morning, which passes by her old home that is now occupied by Tom, Anna, and their daughter, Eve. This is like a stab in the heart each time as her addiction began and marriage failed due to her inability to conceive a child. She also watches the house next to them which has this picture perfect couple that she begins to idolize until one day she sees the wife kissing another man.
She wakes up the next day severely hungover and covered in blood and numerous injuries, yet she can’t remember what happened the night before. She finds out that the wife, Megan, has disappeared. She is also pulled in by the police for questioning since she was seen around that area at the time of the disappearance. She tells them, along with Megan’s husband, about her kissing a man, who she finds out was Megan’s therapist. She visits the therapist who begins helping her make sense of some of her memories from that night while also helping her drinking problem. Even after going a few days without drinking, she always relapses and continues harassing Tom and Anna.
The police find Megan’s dead body and also find out that she was pregnant. This leads Rachel to believe that it could have been Megan’s husband or therapist who murdered her until the police reveal that the baby isn’t from either of them. At home, Anna finds evidence that Tom was having an affair with Megan while Rachel remembers seeing Megan enter Tom’s car. She rushes to Anna to warn her of Tom’s murder, when Anna confronts Tom. He admits to murdering her in order to cover up the pregnancy and then tries to beat up Rachel so she wouldn’t tell the police, until she stabs him with a corkscrew. Anna and Rachel reveal the truth of what happened to the police as Rachel recovers from drinking and begins a new life.
Final Rating: 9/10
This book had like the craziest ending to me that I had ever experienced in a book up until that point. I felt like the ultimate hype man running around my room like “OHHHHHH SNAPPPP OKAAAYYYY THENNN”. That being said, it was not a fun ride at first to get there because I didn’t know what was happening for the first half of the book. The book is very scattered and confusing at first with Rachel riding a train, seeing some stuff, getting drunk, and waking up clueless. But then I realized, it wasn’t that Paula Hawkins was meaning to write in a way that was so elusive, but that this was the kind of perspective she wanted the reader to have in order to match the perspective of Rachel. I honestly felt like I was Rachel when reading the book, as if I was drowning underwater with everything being so fuzzy and hazy, only becoming clearer as I got closer to the surface. I have to admit, I had to read the book twice in order to appreciate it fully because the first time I read it, I actually didn’t enjoy anything about it until the end. It was the second time around when I realized what Paula Hawkins was trying to achieve in her writing style. The one complaint I still have is the extremely slow pace and repetitiveness in the beginning, but Paula Hawkins picks up the pace until the train is chugging straight ahead to that explosive ending.
I can honestly say, Tom was the very very very very last person I was expecting to be the murderer. I would have expected the clerk at Walmart or my dog to be the murderer before I would have expected it to be Tom. I think that’s what makes it so genius because to everyone else, he was also the very last suspect. If anything, throughout the book, I found myself sympathizing with Tom! He kept telling Rachel the insane things she would do while drunk and how badly she was harassing him and his family, that I resented Rachel throughout most of the book. I was completely stunned to find that most of the “unforgivable, drunk outbursts” from Rachel never actually happened! When it was revealed that Tom had been lying to her for years, even up to this being the reason he moved on, I almost felt betrayed. Like damn Tom, I trusted you, but you did me so dirty. I am not saying anyone deserves to be stabbed with a corkscrew but… if anyone DID deserve it, it probably would be Tom.
Overall, I thought this was just such an incredible and well-written psychological thriller. The way Paula Hawkins wrote her characters were incredible and the way she shifted back and forth between Rachel, Anna, and Megan as narrators worked so perfectly in the story in order to reveal just enough up to that point, but still maintain its elusiveness so that it all came together at the end. By the time I read this book the second time, I was extremely impressed with how the story came together. I would recommend this book to others looking for a complex yet captivating thrill!