Wednesday 14 February 2018

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Last Updated: 13 July 2021

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins book cover

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train...

This book's reputation preceded it. I mean, if you're a book lover and you haven't heard of The Girl on the Train, which rock have you been hiding under? Aside from being an incredibly popular bestseller, this book is also a top-notch thriller.

I was rather late to the party when it came to reading The Girl on the Train but I finally got my hands on a copy and was excited to begin. This is one of those slow-burner thrillers that take you in with the slow, creeping sense of dread and unease before changing tack and hurtling at a breakneck pace towards their startling conclusion. It's clever, it's engaging and it's incredibly well-crafted - a real testament to the author.

Paula Hawkins is clearly an expert storyteller, a fact which is shown time and time again in the quality of her writing. Right from the very start, we are sucked into the story, continuing to learn more about the characters, locations and events as we piece the mystery together piece by piece.

Packed full of unexpected twists and surprising turns, we are led this way and that on a thrilling journey through the pages of the novel. The best psychological thrillers have that all-important grounding in reality, something which makes them seem all the more believable. After all, the more plausible a tale seems, the more chilling the events of the book become. The Girl on the Train achieves this with great sincerity - right from the start where Rachel, our main character, makes up stories and daydreams about 'Jess and Jason' and their lives on the other side of the train tracks, through to the very end.

There's no doubt that Rachel is a highly flawed individual, yet it is her complexities and imperfections which make her such a relatable character. As she begins to uncover what happened and sets out on the path to finding the truth, we find ourselves rooting for her and willing her on to succeed. By no means is Rachel a hero - she is certainly no conventional heroine - but the way in which she is portrayed makes her seem all the more likeable.

Upon reading the final sentence and closing the book, I have to admit that while The Girl on the Train was undeniably excellent, it didn't quite manage to live up to my expectations. But then, perhaps that's the problem with touting a book as outstanding rather than leaving it up to each individual reader to determine their thoughts? Either way, this is a great book and a brilliant example of a modern-day psychological thriller.

Rating: 4 stars

The Girl on the Train is available to buy now.

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Have you read the book? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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