The Girl On The Train- Paula Hawkins

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. 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 goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Goodreads rating: 3 stars.

Where do I even begin? If I could sum this novel up in three words, they would be: Overrated, disappointing and flat. My homegirl Merida here perfectly expresses my feelings below:


To be honest, this entire book fell flat for me. I didn’t like the writing, it was choppy and irritating. Did anyone else notice the choppy writing? The overuse of commas? The mediocrity of it? Just me? Oh dear. *Smaller voice* Oh dear…

I don’t really know what I expected from this novel, but the actual book was very, very different from whatever I had in mind. The way in which this book blew up really surprised me. It was the new IT book, and it was everywhere. So I gave into temptation (and peer pressure) and finally read it. And it was nothing special. What is it about this book that stands out from other crime thrillers? I have read many thrillers, much better thrillers, and I’m actually confused about the hype this book got.

Firstly, I hated every single character, which is a first for me. Authors should be contractually obligated to provide at least ONE likeable character. That way I can enjoy a book, even if every person except that ONE is awful, without being filled with rage. I mean, I don’t expect every character to  be angelic, because every human is flawed in a way, some mild, some major, but fundamentally imperfect in the end. But these characters? They had NO REDEEMING QUALITIES. They were either bland, crazy, angry, unloving, or just plain cruel. Let’s start with Rachel. Rachel is a middle-aged, childless divorced woman. She’s short for cash, an alcoholic, missing her relationship, and stuck in the cycle of a lacklustre life. Sure, she has reason to be unhappy and a little obsessive over other people’s seemingly ‘perfect’ suburban lives, but she was a seriously unlikeable person. I despised having to follow her point of view, because she was embarrassing, meddling, contrived and unhinged. I don’t mean to sound so full of anger, especially over a fictional character, but honestly. I couldn’t stand Rachel. I’m a nice person. I swear. Other authors have managed to write imperfect characters in a way that makes them bearable, or in a way that enables a reader to understand their circumstances and empathize with them a little. I simply could not connect with Rachel. I hate you, Rachel.

The other female characters were only significant as the ‘partners of X and Y’. It felt like the novel revolved around relationships, but the females were only important because they were married to the men and had X amount of children, etc. They were all bland, characterised by how much they either hated or loved their suburban lives, their children, and their husbands. A bunch of unhappy housewives, essentially. The men were much more interesting. Too bad they either suffered from anger-management issues, misogynistic thoughts or cheating habits. Really? Are those the only qualities that these people are allowed to have? Is it a necessity for crime thriller authors to make characters as depressing as possible?

Rachel’s obsession with ‘Jess and Jason’ started off interesting, then became creepy, then had me rolling my eyes and wanting to slap Rachel in the face with a raw steak. The premise was so compelling, but the execution let it down tremendously. At least as a debut, Hawkins has room to improve.

The twist at the end honestly surprised me, so that’s why I gave this novel a three star rating. The story leaves you feeling sad and a little annoyed, and unfortunately not even the twist at the end redeemed this book for me. Even after the reveal, I felt like the answer was a little forced. Did that explanation really make sense? Did the author provide that character with a realistic motive? Not really. But what can you do?

Thoughts welcomed on this below! Am I in the minority on this one?


4 thoughts on “The Girl On The Train- Paula Hawkins

  1. That’s too bad you didn’t enjoy this book. I liked it a lot. I couldn’t guess that big twist at the end and I think if you have any feelings for the characters even hate then the author is doing something right to bring emotions out of you. If characters are bland then the books won’t be any good but alcoholic like smoker, once they are deep in trouble it’s hard to just quit. The trouble the main character goes through as an alcoholic is so real to me.


    1. I agree with your point about authors doing something right if they elicit feelings from a reader, but other authors have written unlikeable characters and have done a better job. My problem is that Rachel was not written well, I couldn’t even sympathise with her situation. She is interesting, and her experiences as an imperfect person are very real and make her seem realistic, but I just didn’t like following her thoughts. Thanks for the input! I guess I’m just one of the minority who did not enjoy this book.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you like to follow intelligent character’s thinking process, you should read The Winner’s Series. There are 3 books in that series and I enjoyed them greatly. I have a review for each of them on my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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