Friday, 19 February 2016

Book Review - The Girl on the Train

Book Review - The Girl on the Train
By Paula Hawkins 

"Every day the same.
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens.
She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
Until Today.
And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough.
Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar.
Now they'll see: she's much more than just the girl on the train..."

I received this book as a Christmas present from my Nan and was really quite excited to read it, it's been very widely publicised and seems to be liked by a lot of people. It's not usually the sort of book I would read (I'm much more into fantasy and speculative fiction) but having received it as a present I thought I would give it go. So having finished it, here's my review. 

Overall, I think it's a good book, although I probably wouldn't read it again.

The Writing - It's very well written (in first person) from the perspectives of several characters, which I think is great because it lets you see the different characters thoughts, as well as giving you a deeper understanding of what is going on for them. It also casts more light on the characters themselves as you see each of them from the other characters perspectives. The sentence structure was really good and the narrative flowed really well and definitely kept the reader engaged. 

The Plot - I think the plot was great. For almost the entire book Paula keeps you guessing, feeding you tidbits and clues that seem to point in one direction and then another. It's a classic 'whodunnit' but told in a new and clever way with a great twist at the end that I didn't see coming until I was almost on top of it. Paula gives you a lot of distractions as well, your so busy following one avenue of thought created by a new character that she's introduced or a new scenario that a character finds themselves in that it doesn't really occur to you to look in another direction. I definitely changed my mind several times on who I thought had done it throughout the story. 

The End - Personally I found the ending quite dark, it explained a lot about the character interactions and how they had been shaped into the people they were. And if you really think into it (like I did) then you can see how the actions of one person can so dramatically effect, and in some cases damage, the lives of the people around them in such a poignant and enduring way. Not just the events that happen to them but the thought patterns that are created in their minds. However, I would not slate this as although it is dark and somewhat scary it is also a brilliantly realistic reflection of people and how their minds work.

The Characters - This was where I had trouble. Paula's characters are brilliantly written, they are very realistic and through the first person narrative you can really get into their heads. Paula has given them depth and at times it feels as if you are reading someone's diary instead of a book written by an author. However, I didn't find the characters very likeable. I could understand where some of them were coming from and why they acted the way they did, and with the sub-characters I felt like I understood them. However, the main character, Rachel, I really struggled with. I couldn't really relate to her on any level, at first I was curious by her, then I felt sorry for her and then about half way through the book I just thought she was an idiot. To me she seemed wimpy and rather pathetic and I got a bit frustrated with her, I sort of wished I could reach through the pages and tell her to stop being so stupid, pull herself together and man up a bit for gods sake! I found myself cringing almost every time she made a decision, I wouldn't have done any of the things that she did. Having said that, she was a very well written character and Paula has obviously spent a lot of time getting into the mindset of a person that struggles in the way that Rachel did. 

Overall I think it was a good book, well written and entertaining, with a good plot that certainly kept me guessing, but I probably wouldn't read it again. 

Rach x

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