You know how it is with the thrillers, don’t you? They just don’t let you sit on a chair in a composed manner, savoring the pages. But instead, a true thriller astonishes, startles, and even makes you jump out of the seat when you least expect it.
Paula Hawkins‘s The Girl on the Train is such a book that slowly drags you into the story. When the magic happens, you just can’t leave the book behind. All you can do is ride on the train, knowing the author is the loco pilot. Before we delve into the review section, you should know it was sold about 20 million copies worldwide and paved the way for a motion picture as well. So yeah, we are dealing with a pretty popular psychological thriller here.
The Girl on the Train (Review)
Paula Hawkins is a Zimbabwe-born English author based in London. Before trying her luck in fiction writing, she was a journalist. Maybe that’s what made her so eloquent in the art of storytelling. Despite being her first thriller, The Girl on the Train never ceases to stagger the reader with its unexpected twists and turns. The story advances through first-person narratives of three women; Rachel, Megan, and Anna. Of the three, Rachel is the protagonist. Having been dumped by her husband, she can’t just stand the fact that she is alone. Without accepting the truth, she drunk-dials Tom, the husband every now and then.
Not being able to conceive a baby (she considers it the prime reason behind her failed marriage) has made Rachel a chronic alcoholic. And, she experiences blackouts often to remember nothing after going sober. The broken marriage accelerates her alcoholism. Rubbing salt to the wound, she loses her job and forces herself to board the same train every single day to conceal the reality from her landlady. During her daily commute, Rachel comes across a couple at their house beside the railway track, whom she names as Jason and Jess. She fantasizes about them being an epitome of a copybook couple. To make life exciting, Jess (real name, Megan), in fact, finds abode in many lovers. One day, Rachel sees Megan (or Jess) kissing another man. She agonizes on the thought of finding her fantasies shattering to pieces.
The next day, the news comes out that Megan is missing. While everybody begins to doubt her husband Scott (Jason), Rachel breaks out the news of the extramarital affair; she happened to witness from the train. Wallowed in alcohol with little consciousness, the police never take her seriously. On the other side of the spectrum lies Anna, the woman Tom is now married to, who doesn’t like the frequent calls from her husband’s ex. Having seen Rachel on the premises on the day of Megan’s disappearance, Anna reports the same to the police. Where did Megan go? Did Rachel do something? Is she not able to recall everything because she was drunk at the time? What if the husband (Scott) is the real monster? But wait, she had a lover! He ought to have something to do with the disappearance, right? These were the questions I tossed up in my mind during my time with this book. Yeah, I already read the novel and am aware of everything now. What’s the fun if I reveal the nail-biting climax in a snap of a finger here? I am sparing the excitement! You need to experience the adrenaline rush by yourself."Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train is such a book that slowly drags you into the story. When the magic happens, you just can't leave the book behind." Click To Tweet
Paula Hawkins leads the story away from predictions. I am saying this because many of my prophecies went wrong. When you finally discover what happened to Megan and who the culprit was, you begin to realize the significance of intricate delicacies the author, with the precision of a cardiac surgeon, has put into the story earlier. As you read in the beginning, the story advances through the first-person narratives of three women, presented in the format of diary entries, but jumbled order. Guess what? The format complements the thriller in keeping the reader hooked to the plot.
I have to admit one thing though, the first few pages, where Hawkins was building the premise through the thoughts of Rachel, were slow-moving, at least that’s what I felt. Then again, the majority of thrillers go about the same way, to deposit bombshells later.