Rummanah Aasi
 I picked up The Girl on the Train because of its hype and buzz. Some review journals have declared it to be "the Gone Girl of 2015" and apparently Dreamworks has acquired the film rights so it will be coming to a theater near you soon. I know readers who absolutely loved the book and others who didn't enjoy it nor understand the hype. I belong to the latter camp.

Description: 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?

Review: The Girl on the Train does have similarities to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: a missing person, a possible murder, unreliable characters, infidelity, and despicable characters. Where Gone Girl won me over with its twisty plot and excellent characterizations, The Girl on the Train felt lacking and incomplete.
  The premise of the book requires some buy-in and a suspension of disbelief. Rachel is an alcoholic who has lost her job. In order to hide her unemployment, she takes the same London commuter train to her normal stop and passes the same suburban scenery every day. There is one house that catches her eye-mainly because of the married couple she glimpses living there. Rachel becomes obsessed with this unknown couple that she has dubbed "Jess and Jason" and conjures up an entire dream life for this husband and wife, even giving them make-believe careers. Rachel's fantasy about this couple gives her a little joy, which I found to be very creepy and voyeuristic. Soon Rachel finds out that "Jess" has been missing and is soon embroiled in a murderous thriller. I had a tough time in believing Rachel and I didn't understand her obsession with the couple. I expected her obsession to actually get involved in the couple's life before the disappearance that would have made more sense, but Rachel always remained as the outsider who suddenly become involved.
  The mystery aspect of the novel could have been stronger. Within the first hundred pages I had already guessed what had happened and who is responsible. I kept reading the book to confirm if my guesses were correct and they were after an anticlimactic reveal towards the end of the book. Like the mystery, the pacing of the book also felt off. The prologue grabbed my attention but I soon I found the book to be repetitive and drawn out which was caused by multiple narrators.
  Each chapter is narrated by either Rachel or Anna, who's married to Rachel's ex-husband, or, Megan aka "Jess". I typical don't mind multiple narrators but in the case of this book, they all sounded alike. Each of them are bitter, completely unlikable character, and one dimensional. While there is a solid ending, by the time I got to it I didn't really care and was upset that I didn't drop this book sooner.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, allusions to sex, and some violence. Recommended for mature teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, Little Face by Sophie Hannah, A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante
8 Responses
  1. Candace Says:

    Oh that really stinks that this one didn't work for you. I've been seeing it everywhere (in stores) and have wondered about it. It sounds really interesting. Except that the characters are unlikable and it's too predictable. So I guess I'll skip it for now.


  2. I am sorry you didn't like this one a bit more. I hated all the characters, but I was invested in the story. A good psychological thriller is so hard to find.


  3. Kindlemom Says:

    Sorry this didn't work out for you, especially since you picked it up because of all the hype. I hope your next read it a better one. :D


  4. Oh wow! I've read glowing reviews of this book and now I'm a bit leery. I haven't read Gone Girl because I've been told the ending isn't a good one (I'm an ending girl). Good to know about the characterizations. These kind of books need good strong characters.


  5. I actually don't prefer books with multiple narrators so the fact that the women all sound alike and are "bitter, completely unlikable character, and one dimensional" means I'll be skipping this one. Just out of curiosity, why does Rachel need to hide her unemployment?


  6. Anne Bennett Says:

    OK. Finally. Someone who agrees with me about the book. I am not a fan either, not because of figuring out the mystery because I kind of didn't figure it out, but because I didn't like any of the characters and wasn't rooting for anyone. In that sense it was very much like Gone Girl, but in GG there were so many plot twists it kept me interested. We are discussing TGOTT this week in book club. I have a feeling I will be in the minority.


  7. I loved Gone Girl too, but it's unlikely that I'd enjoy something similar, albeit slightly inferior. You're right about the characterization and completely upsetting twists in Gone Girl. I'd want just as good or nothing at all.


  8. I've read a few other reviews with your same feelings about this book. I've been finding that books haven't been living up to the hype lately. I'm not buying the ones with hype anymore. I'm sorry this one fell so flat for you. Hope you find something good next read.


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