L: Review of Paula Hawkins’s “The Girl on the Train”

Someone reassure me: have you ever read a book that you know was good, but wasn’t good for you? I think I’ve mentioned my ongoing issue with reverse projection and that some books and the issues addressed within them just become too personal for me. Well, Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train was just such a book. I can tell that it was a good book. The writing was effortless; the plot was unique and mesmerizing; it took all of two days for me to complete. I can see why other people would like it, and yet I cannot say that I liked it. Not at all, actually.

First things first:


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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?

I’ve been trying to pinpoint the exact reason why I feel icky about this book, and I think I’ve settled on the fact that everything in the book was miserable. I’m talking about every character, every situation, every relationship was unhappy, uncomfortable, and depressing. It was truly 300 pages of depression. There’s infidelity; there’s alcoholism; there are misfortunes aplenty, and I continually had to close the book and remind myself that this was a fictional story. It is not my life. It is not reality, at least for me, and hopefully not for anyone ever, because yikes! What awful people with awful lives! I still can’t get over it.

However, it must speak to the author’s talent if she is able to affect me so strongly with her story. And like I said, the writing, the action, intrigue, plot twists, everything was there and all of it made for an interesting, quick read. MY problem of projecting the problems of characters within books or movies onto myself is no concern of this author, and in that case, she did her job. I was interested the whole time. I imagine that The Girl on the Train technically counts as a “thriller” and definitely counts as a mystery. It maintains the suspense well enough (you’ll figure it out before the book spells it out for you, but then you just get to feel smart for figuring it out) and is relatable and believable throughout, hence my resulting sadness.

My depression from reading this is my own concern, and it always passes. So, while I personally will give this book maybe 2 stars for being just too darn miserable (seriously, 0% happiness or positivity for 323 pages; just varying levels of misfortune), I can’t say that I don’t recommend it to people who like mysteries, or “thrillers.” Give it a try. Whatever. I’m working on recuperating, myself.  Need brain floss, ASAP!



Filed under Book Review, Lindsay

16 responses to “L: Review of Paula Hawkins’s “The Girl on the Train”

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  4. ariastuckinwonderland

    Great review! I’m sorry this book didn’t work out too well for you. I’m still curious on what all the fuss is about this book so, we’ll see if I like it. 🙂

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  6. I know what you mean about good books not being good for you. That’s the main problem I had with 13 Reason Why by Jay Asher. I could see that the book was good and I could understand why other people loved it, but what that girl did with those recordings before committing suicide and suicide in general frustrate me sooo much that I couldn’t enjoy it.

  7. Thanks, you just saved me. I was really trying to squeeze this book in, but now I think that I will just skip it.

  8. Love this review! And I completely understand how you feel–dark and gritty isn’t for everyone all the time. I honestly like these sorts of uber creepy+miserable books so I think I’ll give it a try.

    About the projection thing–I feel bad for you. I used to do that too and it took me some time to get rid off the habit. Good luck with the brain flossing!

    • I know, I can tell that it isn’t a healthy habit, and yet I continue to feel bad for imaginary characters. You should definitely try it, though, if you like that style of book. Can’t wait to read your review!

  9. I also felt uncomfortable with this book. It did not make me feel good at all, and I did not appreciate how the characters were portrayed at all! It was so difficult to care for any of them because they all seem damaged beyond repair XD It was quite a struggle, so I definitely feel your misery XD

    • I know!! It just made it seem like everybody cheats, abuses themselves or others, and some people are even murderers, too. I totally agree that the characters were beyond sympathy. I’m glad to know I’m not alone!

  10. I honestly didn’t care much for this book. It was boring and depressing and definitely wasn’t “the next Gone Girl” in my opinion. I’ve heard several other readers say they didn’t care for it, too. So you’re not alone!

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