Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Girl on the Train | Paula Hawkins

87/100

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

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?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

Because this is a mystery, and both the cover and the synopsis are purposely vague I want to talk a bit in depth of the actual contents of the book. As a result, this review will definitely have spoilers ahead so if you haven't picked up the book, I suggest reading it before continuing.

+5 Cover Design

I actually am a fan of the cover. The blurryness matches the tone of the book and I think it does well to complement the storyline without giving away any crucial information. Both the cover and the synopsis work in order to keep an air of mystery around the book, which is what initially enticed me to read it.

+4 Writing Style

I don't have too much to say about the writing style. I would say it was about average, easy to get lost in the book but not spectacular in any sense. 

+4 Plot Development

While I didn't love the characters (something I will touch on further) I did enjoy how the plot unfolded. The entirety of the plot was clouded which made it interesting since you never knew where you would end up. Did Rachel have a personality disorder or was she just crazy? Did Megan's therapist kill her or was it her unintentionally abusive husband? Before we got to the conclusion, we went through so much with the characters and explored all the possibilities before finally reaching the conclusion.  

+3 Character Relations

Every character was connected in some way which was interesting but also mildly unnecessary. Many of the relations between character seemed almost forced and unrealistic. For example, when Rachel first started getting into Megan's investigation, she continually emailed Scott and lied to get her way into his life which seemed unnatural.

Another issue seemed to be the unnatural number of affairs between all the characters. Maybe this is just me, but I don't think it's natural to have slept with several women while you're married. I found it especially ironic for Anna, since she was the 'other woman' when Tom and Rachel were married. Anna truly believed her relationship with Tom was perfect, not even knowing the same situation was happening with her.

Generally I wasn't a huge fan of how interconnected the characters were, especially since it was mostly just a circle of sex. I wish there had been more variety in the types of relationships between characters.

+3 Character Development

I felt like there wasn't much development in terms of characters. Out of all the characters we only saw minute development in Rachel, our protagonist. As an alcoholic much of the book focused on her trying to get her life together and between the beginning and the end of the book she finally was able to get most of her life together though there were frequent setbacks.

Rachel was finally able to grow some confidence and independence which was really important for her, but a lot had to happen for her to make even the smallest amount of progress.

+2 Likability of Protagonist

I really didn't like Rachel as a character, but I really didn't like any of the other characters either. In the beginning Rachel was whiny, annoying and overall weak as a character and my irritation with her only grew as she continued to drink knowing her alcoholic condition. I found it incredibly surprising that Rachel ended up being the most sane character out of the entire cast, Relatively, she was my favorite character but I disliked all of them so that statement doesn't say much.

+3 Necessity of Minor Characters

There were several characters that were mentioned several times but were never given a determined role or a proper conclusion. One example of this is the red-haired man Rachel ran into on the night of the murder. I figure his purpose was to help fill in the gaps of that night, but he really didn't make much of a difference in the plot for the amount of attention that seemed to be given to him. I wish more attention was given to these minor characters and more of these non sexual relationships were more fleshed out.

+5 Setting Description

There wasn't anything too special about the setting. It was easy to visualize it but it wasn't spectacular.

+5 Interesting Storyline

I love mysteries so I thought the storyline was fantastic. The thrill and feeling of reading a murder mystery is something that can't be replicated from any other genre.

+3  Predictability

I like to think I'm fairly good at predicting the outcome of mysteries since it usually ends up being the person least likely to have committed the crime. Unfortunately in this book, the actual killer was fairly predictable. Throughout most of the book I had eliminated Scott and Megan's therapist simply because they were suspected in the book. But I began to suspect Anna since she had motive and her perspective was given in the book. 

Both Tom and Scott were abusive individuals and it wasn't too much of a stretch that Tom had killed Megan, so it wasn't a gasp-inducing conclusion which was mildly disappointing. 

+50 Finished

Final Total: 87/100 ; B+

I felt like there was much more hype around this book than it deserved, but that's the beauty of hype, it usually lets you down. It definitely a good mystery but I recommend not going into it with too many expectations like I did. If you read it, let me know what you thought in the comments below!