“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?
A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.” ~Goodreads
The Girl on the Train (Jan 2015) by Paula Hawkins has had some superb marketing. The hype and anticipation for this psychological thriller seemed to be everywhere. On the heels of the Gone Girl movie and success of one of the most talked about books, comparisons were being made early on. And while there are similarities of the two books: intensity, creepiness, unreliable and unlikable characters, page turning suspense, they are quite different. (There will be no major spoilers ahead, but if you haven’t read either, it might sway you)
- Amy Dunne in GG kicks butt as a woman, as a feminist and also as a deranged psycho. There have been few books that had me completely shocked when it comes to the unreliable character play.
- When Rachel Watson’s marriage falls apart in TGotT, she falls into deep depression and doesn’t fight back for her life until the very end. Her unreliability is not because she is crazy it is because she is drunk most of the time.
- She said vs. she said. The Girl on the Train is narrated by three women: Rachel Watson (Train girl), Megan/Jess (the girl observed from the train) and Anne (the other woman). No male POV in this one.
- I went in blind with GG. Didn’t know about a twist. The “WHAT THE WHAT?!” moment in TGotT was just not that shocking to me. I didn’t predict what it was going to be because with three different narrators it was hard to pinpoint. I had a different theory as each narration switched. But I did have an inkling as the story progressed. In GG, I was floored, simply shocked. I remember that I paused, closed the book and walked around muttering to myself. My husband thought I was nuts.
- GG is a story about a marriage completely unraveling. In TGotT, it was Rachel who was unraveling and she was an utter mess. Not calculating like Amy at all. She seemed to be a victim of herself much of the time.
- The approach to the endings are completely different. Not better, not worse, just different…and that’s all I can say.
So did I like it? YES! Very much so. It had all the elements of that Hitchcockian thriller that I love. I couldn’t put it down and was up past midnight last night bulldozing through it just to see what was going to happen. It creeped me out and made me anxious. I think I locked the house up a second time just to make sure. The look into the human psyche was as fascinating as GG and even though the characters were unlikable, I enjoyed being crazy with them for several hundred pages.
I understand why new books get labeled in comparison to other best sellers. Primarily, for marketing but also for reader’s advisory. I do it everyday at my job in the library. It gives readers a way to find other comparable books with similar themes, tones, storylines that they enjoy. It’s necessary and helpful. But can the comparisons only let down the reader if they were expecting the same feeling? I also take it with a grain of salt because no two books make me feel the same way. They just can’t. And so I go in cautiously when new books are compared to ones that are my favorites. That moment in part two of GG that had my jaw to the floor is a challenging experience to duplicate. But that doesn’t mean The Girl on the Train wasn’t as equally well written or suspenseful. It was. In just a very different way. Also, a debut, so I can only imagine what Hawkins has in store for her fans in years to come.
*Thanks to Edelweiss and Riverhead for granting me access to a digital ARC. I was not required to post this review nor was I compensated.