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Tragic, sad, and extremely captivating. Despite a lacking plot and subpar writing, it had that inexplicable thing that makes it a public favourite! I completely understand the appeal.

The Girl on the Train, Rachel, is a divorcée with her wedding ring still on. And every day her train makes a stop in front of a beautiful suburban neighbourhood so close to the tracks she can see into each of the perfect couple’s houses. It’s not very hard for her to imagine the inside of the homes since she used to know one of them very intimately. But it was two years since she lived there and now it’s inhabited by her ex-husband and his ex-mistress, current wife, and their little daughter. One day, she sees something out of the ordinary that she cannot remember. Deemed an unreliable witness, Rachel cannot shy away from her obligation to find out the truth of what she saw.

Wrongly described as the next Gone Girl, it still manages to engage you in the same way as Gillian Flynn writing. The “major plot twist” was easily predicted and not in a good way. Some books are meant to be figured out before the end of the book, but this book seemed to try to surprise you with the end and it didn’t manage to do that. The plot was more morose than suspensful and if it had been advertised as such I believe it would have gained my interest more. My absolute pet peeve is when something is advertised as one thing but ends up being another (*cough* *cough* those tragic Ransom Riggs books).

The characters were probably the strongest attribute of the book. We got to read the stories from three different POVs and in different timelines. I believe the author was able to excellently catch the essence of the characters in her writing. Although I had a problem with how daft Anna(the ex-mistress, current wife) sounded. She sounded like an absolute airhead although her actions were of a very intelligent and neurotic individual. I couldn’t wait for Rachel’s chapters, I just loved her as a character and despite not being an alcoholic or a depressed divorcée, there was something very realistic about her and it was very easy to empathise with her. For more on the third POV, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

It wasn’t a very inclusive book, there weren’t that many poc or lgtbqai+ characters. But the one that was, the muslim-Balkan therapist, was very well represented. There is one instance where he is accused of absurd things due to his religious background and I was fuming at that point due to the reckless stereotyping. But then, BUT THEN, the author puts the blame of the rumours on the press. And I loved that so much! Because stereotyping and racialising is widely perpetuated by media but no one has ever had the balls to expose them. I think this was a very well constructed criticism of media today.

As I mention above several times, I did not like the writing. As a book written in first person it’s not as bad as it could have been but it’s not amazing either. (Major spoiler: I HATE HATE HATE books written in first person.) It’s just good, a flatline of a prose, nothing more exciting.

Overall it was a solid book with a lot of potential for a film adaptation. Although Rachel is fat and Emily Blunt is thinner than a shaved stick. Anyways… Fat-erasure isn’t new. I don’t have much more to say about the book except that I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a quick read.

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3 thoughts on “The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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