Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just Finished Reading: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Published on January 13, 2015
by Riverhead Books
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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?
Note: this is an adult book, but one that I think has huge crossover appeal to YA readers. There are some adult themes and situations.

My take: Thrillers and mysteries are some of my favorite kinds of books, and I think they're diabolically hard to write. You have to think backwards and forwards, figuring out what happened, and then carefully piece together clues that the protagonist (and the reader!) can find and puzzle over. I also feel strongly that you have to make the ending guessable.

As thrillers go, I thought The Girl on the Train was excellent. It offers a page-turning plot, characters that slowly reveal themselves to the reader, and some really interesting themes.

Rachel's lost her job but still takes the train to and from London as if she still had a purpose. She also has got a bit of a drinking problem. As she sits on the train, drinking and sad, she wistfully watches a couple whose deck backs onto the train tracks. They seem so happy together. Then one day, she sees something shocking on the deck, something she can't get out of her mind. Soon she'll be inserting herself into the lives of others with unexpected and unintended results.

I think one of my favorite aspects of the story is the way it explores our instinct to assume and to judge others on very limited information. First there are the assumptions that Rachel makes about her happy couple. Then, there are the assumptions the reader makes about Rachel and her drinking and erratic behavior. The book does this again and again-- introduces a character or situation, lets you make your assumptions, and then slowly pulls back the lens to show you more context or other extenuating circumstances. As a result, my opinion of different characters was constantly changing. The number of suspects in the crime is relatively small, and by about two-thirds of the way through, I thought I had figured out what happened. I was right, but that in no way spoiled my enjoyment of the story.

Highly recommended for fans of thriller and mysteries!


40 comments:

  1. Great review Jen! It definitely has a Gone Girl typa of vibe, so I'm going to check this one out!

    Happy Reading
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

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    1. I thought it did, though I'd say more Hitchcock meets Memento.

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  2. I'm on the wait list for this at my library. I'm trying to stay in the know with current adult reading picks since I read so much YA :)

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  3. I have heard many good things about this book :)

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  4. I want to read this one. Sounds awesome and creepy:P

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  5. Wow this sounds like a great thriller! We make assumptions everyday in our life so I'm curious to see how it's done in the book. You've totally got me interested!

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    1. That part of it was really interesting to me.

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  6. I have seen this everywhere recently, I really am going to have to try and read it soon :)
    Great review Jen :)

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  7. You have me curious about this one, Jen! I've been seeing this one around but I wasn't paying specific attention to it. I do like the idea of a book exploring this idea of assumptions we tend to make... it's so true and I think this book would definitely be an eye opener!

    I am glad that even though you had solved the mystery it never took from your enjoyment. Isn't that so fun?? :D It makes you feel smart but works well enough that you actually continue enjoying the book!

    Lovely review, Jen!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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    1. That's part of the fun of this kind of book -- you can try to figure it out!

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  8. I bought this a few weeks ago and I can't wait to read it!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  9. I really do want to read this book. It sounds great, and I've been really into mysteries/thrillers lately. I love that even if you guess the end or the big reveal, the book is still enjoyable.

    -Lauren

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  10. I've seen this one around and thought it looked and sounded interesting. I'll have to add it to my tbr since you liked it enough to review here. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

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    1. I liked it -- going to email you about something else so I will tell you more!

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  11. I've heard so many people raving about this book. I love mysteries and thrillers as well so I think this book is perfect for me! I can't wait to get my hands on it!

    Great review!

    Sophie @ Seamless Reader

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  12. I've actually seen this book around before, but the summary was vague so I didn't bother marking it as TBR. Your review made way more sense, to be honest! And this book sounds really good, I love reading thrillers but they're really hard to find (at least in YA). Thanks for the review, I might just pick this up some day, this sounds actually good!

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    1. Well, you don't want to know too much going in!

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  13. I just finished this after my mom fell for all the hype-we hoped it would be kind of like Gone Girl but we were disappointed. I did kind of figure out who did it but I didn't find it as gripping as I would have liked. I do like your note about the assumptions we make about people, something I've been struggling with a lot.

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    1. Sorry you didn't like it as much as I did, but thanks for coming by to give an alternate opinion! I liked Gone Girl but not as much as some of Gillian Flynn's other books -- have you read any of her earlier stuff?

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  14. Great review! This is one that is on my TBR for sure. I can't wait to read it.

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    1. It's everywhere these days. Hope you enjoy!

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  15. Yaaay, you finally finished it, Jen! I loved this one soooo much, too! I'm going to be reviewing this one on Not So Literary tonight. And you're right, I think what made this book feel right so much was because it really gave us a sneak peek into how one's mind works - full of assumptions, and overthinking, which honestly made us really hesitate about what truly happened here!

    Faye at The Social Potato

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  16. I am a mixed ba when it come to thrillers and mysteries. It has to hit me ion the right way but i am absolutely intrigued by this one.
    <3 Britt @ please feed the bookworm

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  17. this one does look awesome. I had it on my TBR list but really haven't given much thought to it until your review. Now I am way excited.

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  18. I've been wanting to read this one because not only is the plot incredibly intriguing but also I love finding a great mystery (Love Gone Girl and Agatha Christie's books:))!
    I like how you said it makes you question assumptions because it makes the book sound very though-provoking plus it reminds me of what my old history teacher used to say (to assume makes an ass out of u and me;))
    I'm actually pleasantly surprised that there aren't that many suspects because then we get to explore each one a bit more I'm guessing! Good job on figuring out who did it Book Blogging Nancy Drew!:)
    Can't wait to read this one!
    Great review!
    Maya @ anotheronceuponatime.blogspot.com

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  19. Ahh I've heard so many good things about this one Jen I've bee dying to get my hands on it! I love that you had a great time with it and hopefully once all the craziness in my life dies down i'll be able to read it :)

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  20. Ah, it is so easy to make assumptions based on so little, and not think about the other side

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  21. Oh, I am big on mysteries! I will be adding this one :D Thanks for the review lady!

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  22. Did you read Gone girl? I've heard a lot of people say this book is better than Gone Girl. I like it when a book goes one direction and when I finally think I've figured it out, it takes another turn.

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  23. I really wasn't expecting to enjoy The Girl on the Train, but it was so good - so much better than Gone Girl! I don't usually read thrillers, but I actually liked this one, which is unusual. Just goes to show you should branch out once in a while!
    Beth x
    www.thequietpeople.com

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