Book review: The Girl on the Train

07 March 2015

I have a very active imagination so I don't normally seek out psychological thrillers when deciding on a new book to read  and god knows I don't need another reason to be scared of commuting alone more than I already am  but after seeing the blurb I really couldn't resist. All the other books on my To Be Read pile had to take a step back as I devoured every page of 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?
It's definitely one of the most riveting and gripping novels I have read in a while, and I can see why a lot of reviewers compared it to Gone Girl. Like Gillian Flynn's notorious novel, it features unreliable narrators and will keep you guessing right until the grand reveal. It also presents the story through three different points of view: Rachel's, Megan's, and Anna's – all flawed characters whom it's hard to sympathize with because through the masterful storytelling you can't really tell who is lying, who is telling the truth, and who is protecting whom.

As much as I wanted to tear through the pages and get over all the cliffhangers spread out through the book, I also wanted to draw out the experience and relish the not knowing. I avoided reviews lest I accidentally see a spoiler and anticipated the reveal. When I finally got there, what a pleasure to say it was completely satisfactory, unlike the aforementioned Gone Girl where I wanted to hurl my Kindle on the wall because the ending made me angry.

I liked most of the books I read that feature shifting first person points of view, and I would love to write my own story that uses this technique. The challenge lies in making sure that the voices have their own distinct personality and that they don't sound too much alike. Hawkins does this excellently, and it was a thrilling ride going inside the heads of Rachel, Megan, and Anna.

The Girl on the Train is the best book I have read this year so far but seeing as I only have four on my list at the moment I'm not sure if it is a reliable review. Let it be said though that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I mean, I will not be sacrificing time I could have spent catching up on sleep while on my hour-long journey to the office reading it if I didn't. I will not be picking up another psychological thriller for a while, I think, as I would have to immerse myself in "research" again. I signed up to Mina's #SparkNA class (a New Adult Contemporary online writing class sponsored by Anvil Publishing's Spark Books imprint) and for our first assignment we have to read books written by New Adult Filipino authors. I have read several but it doesn't hurt to check out more. Besides, after such a heavy read, I'm in the mood for some romance. (^_−)☆ 

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