An intriguing suspense thriller from a debutante that will keep you turning the page until the very end.
Right from the title, The Girl on the Train, reminded me of a series and a book – the millennium series and Gone Girl – both which have been made into movies. And, though I’ve been hearing good reviews about Paula Hawkins’ debut novel The Girl on the Train, I wasn’t in a hurry to read it until I heard that the book was being made into a movie. That’s my baseline. I simply have to read a book if it’s been made into a movie and I’m planning to watch it; especially if the book has been getting good reviews. So, I go, get myself a ebook into my Kindle and take it off from there.
The story starts well; good language, slightly poetic, simple and casual. The narration is split between three women-Rachel, Megan and Anna. Rachel Watson,the main protagonists of the three, is an alcoholic with an identity crisis; she is still hung up on her ex-husband and hasn’t been able to get hold of her life after their divorce. She has these gaping holes in her memory, all thanks to her drinking problem, courtesy of which she has even lost her job. In short, her life is a total wreck she is unable to bring back on track. Being a regular commuter from Ashbury to London, she picks a house on her way, just four houses away from her old house with her ex-husband, where she observes a couple nearly everyday. To her imagination the couple, Jess and Jason, are perfect the way she and Tom, her ex-husband, were until they weren’t. And then, one day, something happens that shatters the tiny perfect world she imagined for them. That’s where the story takes off from. The narration then moves on with Megan, the complicated woman who lived in that house, and Anna, Tom’s new wife.
This is one of those stories where none of the characters are exactly likable. Rachel is a total mess and you want to slap her on her face and yell at her to get a life! Megan is just too complicated that halfway through I gave up trying to figure her out. And with Anna, I found her over-protectiveness for her family and her sense of self-importance along with her complete lack of fairness towards Rachel annoying and tedious. I did not form opinions about the male characters as the author, I believe, had kept the characters purposefully vague. So you don’t exactly like anyone till the end, but I sure did want to see Rachel get a hold over her life.
And this is where this story is a U-turn from Gone Girl. In Gone Girl the protagonist had a complete and total control and firm grip on the way she wanted to live her life. She even controlled the lives of people around her. Rachel Watson has no such ‘virtues’ or qualities. I intermittently felt pity and sorry for her throughout the story. I hoped and prayed that she get a grip on her life and turn around a new leaf!
The book did drag in the middle where the story just going in circles around Rachel’s misery. But, apart from that, the twist in the plot, which came at the end, was a really good one.
The book is being made into a movie with a few changes, though not in the plot. Unlike with Gone Girl, Paula Hawkins does not have much to do with the movie, which like the book will not be based in London. The movie seems to be in the casting stage; most of the female casting is done and they are now casting the men for the movie (link).
Coming back to the book. It is a good book, but slightly over hyped. The language was simple, casual and poetic at times. I left the book feeling light and relieved from the suspense and thrill of the book. For a debut novel, I think, Paula Hawkins has done a wonderful job. I will wait for the movie just as hard as I’m waiting for Ms.Hawkins’ next book.