Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesdays Tomes: The Girl on the Train

When Amazon recommended Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train to me, I was excited. The book sounded good and Amazon said if you loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, you'd love this book. I can't say that I loved Gone Girl--it was disturbing and scary and not the type of book I usually read, but I also couldn't put it down and I was looking forward to having a book that consumed me for days.

So, I chose The Girl on the Train for my book that's currently on the bestseller list (so did pretty much everyone else doing the challenge according to Pinterest). When I started reading it, it was #1 on the list when I ordered it (and it still is now). 

While half of me was excited to read the book, the other half of me was wary. 1) I've never been a "best sellers" kind of girl. I tend to find best sellers predictable and they often lack original characters and any depth. I usually can't relate to the characters--especially when it comes to "chick lit." I make a few exceptions for Nicholas Sparks books (hey, everyone needs their guilty pleasures--plus, somebody usually dies and to paraphrase Billy Collins, if you major in English, you're basically majoring in death) and Jodi Picoult books. 2) Gone Girl set the bar high for books in this genre for me. 3) It's British and I usually find British books (with the exception of Mark Haddon and some Ian McEwan books) really boring.

I was in full on hibernation mode for two straight weeks with the frigid cold, though, so I didn't hesitate to get started when my Amazon package arrived. 

The premise of the book intrigued me. A woman rides the same train every day. Every day, she sees the same people in their yard and they seem happier than she is, so she creates this backstory for them and makes up names for them. She imagines what their lives are like. When she sees objects, like a pile of clothing, along the tracks, she comes up with stories for how it got there. I could absolutely relate to this. 

The story was also divided up between three different voices: Rachel (suddenly this is sounding wrong? is that really her name?), the girl on the train; Megan, the woman whose story Rachel has imagined; and Anna, the new wife of Rachel's ex-husband. I love books that switch between points of view from chapter to chapter, so another check in the pro column. I could have stood for a little more variation between the voices--sometimes I wouldn't remember whose chapter I was in until I looked at the subtitle again. 

The downside was that I could put it down. I didn't mind when it was time to get up and go for a walk or grade some papers. I had no trouble walking away from it. 

There were also a lot of ambiguous pronouns. And I get it. They couldn't use names in some of the sections or the mystery would be lost. They needed to keep the options for the culprit wide open and using names would have ruined that. But ambiguous pronouns is a pet peeve of mine--there are ways to make a character distinct without giving away their identity completely and I was annoyed that this book didn't do that; instead it was just "he" this, "he" that--and he could have been any person in the whole entire country of England instead of a very specific "he" who shared similarities with the other suspects.

I also thought it was predictable. I guessed the twist early on in the book. I won't say anymore on that since my sister's not done with it and if she hasn't guessed yet, I don't want to give anything away! (But it didn't take me too long to figure out who "he" was.)

Overall, I'm glad I read it. I'm sure it will be one that becomes a movie and it's a book that probably all of my non-English major friends will have read, so it will give us some common ground--and that very rarely happens! If you like suspense and you liked Gone Girl, this would be worth a read. This could have easily gone into the category of a genre I don't typically read, though, so my opinion definitely shouldn't sway you from reading it if you were interested in it--you might find it impossible to put down if it's your type of book.

The Girl on the Train is book #5 of 12 for the reading challenge. I feel like I've powered through the first few categories. I haven't decided which to tackle next--I've been reading a lot of YA lit since I finished this one (more on that later). Now that we're at midterm, I have more reading for prepping for classes now, so until spring break in two weeks, I won't have a whole lot of free time to tackle new categories. Hope everyone else can enjoy some leisure reading so I can live vicariously through you for the next couple weeks!


  1. Intense challenge!

    PS to answer your question: It's actually an origami turtle :)

    1. It's a fun challenge! It's been nice having goals to meet with books in addition to our walking goals :)

  2. Replies
    1. It was interesting! Definitely worth a read if you're into thriller/mystery type books.

  3. Haha, I put off reading this until after I was done, so you could have shared all your thoughts! :-)

    1. Haha! Well, now I haven't ruined it for anyone else, either.