Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

A much hyped book that delivers.

I have been looking forward to reading this book for a long time. Apparently, it is a celebrated book which has topped all the relevant lists and is touted as the latest in the "intelligent crime fiction" genre.

Hype about a book always puts me off. Therefore I waited a long time before I got the opportunity to read this one. I read a lot of interviews about the author where she talks about commuting and how people who do it on a regular basis will be able to relate to it. The concept is intriguing I admit. Being a train lover myself I have imagined the lives of people of houses that I pass by. That the author has managed to weave a fascinating tale from such a random activity that it has sparked a lot of interest and promise for the book.


Rachel, a daily commuter, is fascinated by a house she passes by on train. One day she sees something that brings right to the centre of the case of a disappearing woman. What follows then is a turn of events that pulls in Rachel deeper until it threatens her sanity and her life.

What works:
  • The style. It is engaging and compels the reader to read on. The fact that the author was a journalist shows through her clipped sentences and tight arrative.
  • The narrative works through the point of view of the main characters. I have always been a fan of the technique where the reader gets a 3D view of the situation. It is a tough one to pull off and the first time author does it well.
  • The characters. I loved the character of Rachel. Her flaws and her fight with her internal demons are shown very well.
  • The psychology of the characters are shown very well too. Loved Anna and Megan and the way they have been etched.
What doesn't:
  • The story is a big boring to begin with. It took me a good number of pages to get hooked. Had this book not been famous, may be I would have been tempted to given up. But stick with it and the skill of the writer is revealed.
  • It is grim and depressing. That is not a bad thing but the mood gets so sombre that it affected me too. That doesn't mean the book is bad, in fact the opposite. But those looking for a feel good crime thriller may be disappointed. 
Overall, a great read. It is skillfully done, the characters remain with you for a long time and there is this satisfaction of having read a good book by a skilled author.


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