CF Book Club: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train will take you on a ride you will not soon forget.
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Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train will take you on a ride you will not soon forget.
The Girl on the Train Book Cover

Photo Credit: Amazon

“There are familiar faces on these trains, people I see every week, going to and fro. I recognize them and they probably recognize me. I don’t know whether they see me, though, for what I really am.” – Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

The last time I read a book that could be considered a thriller was in middle school. There was a whole section dedicated to the Nancy Drew series in the library and I happened to read one or two. However, my all-time favorite thriller/horror literary franchise has to be R.L Stine’s Fear Street series. Whether it was about haunted houses or cursed medallions, Stine had my twelve-year-old self on the edge of the page.

The Girl on the Train combines a bit of both series. Here’s a quick summary, courtesy of Amazon:

“Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”

Sounds pretty cool, right?

Here’s what I loved…

  • The novel is written from the perspective of three main characters who are all a little lost, sad, and angry. Hawkins expertly portrays them in such a way that despite doing completely unbelievable things, a part of you can relate to them.
  • I never would have guessed who the perpetrator was!
  • The book moves slowly, which might sound like a turn-off, but ends up setting you up for an emotional roller coaster.

Here's what I think could have been improved...

  • From the blonde-who-has-it-all to the over-obsessed ex-wife, I was unimpressed at how unimaginative the female characters were. Yes, at times I could relate to them because we've all felt jealous, impulsive, or lonely at one point in our lives. I just wished Hawkins had explored the women in a more three-dimensional way.
  • In the case of thrillers, I like it when the story gradually gets darker and darker. At times, I felt like the major points of The Girl on the Train were introduced at a pace that did not flow well.

Ultimately for me, it might not have been the best book I ever read, but that is not to say you won’t enjoy it. The novel is an international bestseller, so it has definitely tickled the toes of most of its readers. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers or Gone Girl, I would definitely recommend giving it a shot!

Lastly, I would like to note that there is a significant event in the beginning of the novel that catapults the whole plot in to action. But when the assailant is revealed, it does not quite correlate with that major event.

What do you think?

Have you read The Girl on the Train? What did you think? If you haven't read it yet, do you want to now? Sound off in the comments!

If you would like to address anything specific in the novel, please write "SPOILER ALERT" in the top of your comment.