Girls and Trains and Adultery

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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? (Goodreads)

I love how Hawkins sets the weary tone of the novel and maintains that mood throughout the story. The novel is told through three different perspectives, all women with struggles about their marital lives. The narration is cold, bleak and paranoid, setting a quiet sense of suspense that takes time to unfold that I found rather unusual for a thriller. The novel is less of a thriller but a psychological one and the suspense unfolds through the emotions of the characters instead of the mystery itself. Rachel narrates as if she was having a bad dream, Anna is wide-eyed innocent and careful and Megan is restless.

While I liked the tone and setting of the story, I found the characters too cold to be relatable. The conversations did not feel real and I think the word for it is ‘detached.’ All the characters just felt detached to one another that I barely felt any resemblance of a relationship at all.

The mystery itself is quite simple and I do not know if I should feel cheated or be fascinated on how Hawkins managed to stretch the story with such a weak plot. This is another reason why I think the novel is more psychological than thrilling. The police, the media, and the case itself were downplayed by the emotional instability of the characters and they all feel as if they were just there to provide tension but not entirely important to what’s really going on.

The story pretty much revolves around the emotional fragility of the three women. They are all afraid and this pretty much becomes the foundation of their roles in this novel. I found it irritating that the story felt incomplete and the main characters did not exactly got the closure they needed, well, except for one character.

The main antagonist sort of ruined the book for me and made the plot weak which I said earlier. I think his character could be more complex and his actions even justifiable but he ended up just some guy who could not keep his pants on.

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars

Good tone. Detached characters. I think this novel deserves a proper closure, or a sequel maybe. Good thriller but I think it could have been better.


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