Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Girl on the Train ~ Book Review

Rachel commutes on the same train every day at the same time.  The train always makes the same stop at a particular signal close to a a row of houses that back onto the the tracks.  In one of these houses lives her ex husband and his new family.  In another of the houses lives a couple Rachel doesn't know personally but she feels like she totally does know them.  Each day Rachel sees them interact on their back deck and from her perspective on the train, it looks like they have the perfect relationship and the perfect life, certainly very different from her own.  She looks forward to seeing them each day and has even given them her own made up names, Jess and Jason.   She's imagined lives for them which she believes suits them.  Their love is everything she doesn't have.  But in reality all is not perfect in this couple's world and on one of those stops, Rachel witnesses something that she, in her made up world for the couple, sees as not right.  And when news headlines reveal that "her" Jess is missing, Rachel knows she must go tell the police what she saw.   But the trouble is Rachel hasn't been quite honest about things and that, coupled with her drinking has not only the police but her very own self wondering how reliable her memory is.  As the investigation deepens Rachel finds herself obsessively drawn to the situation but her compulsive actions while drunk or not,  only seem to make things worse yet she can't seem to help herself.

This psychological thriller has a lot of hype surrounding it right now.  It is told in the first person narrative of three different women, Rachel, Megan and Anna.  Three perspectives and back stories. Yet none of the narratives is reliable as each woman is hiding something.  The premise of the story seemed so interesting to me, I do love a good thriller with twists and turns but I have to admit I was wondering if I would be setting this book aside.  It started off a bit slow and it is a very dark, dismal and depressive kind of story.   Each of the women's stories are sad and there is nothing giving or loving it seems about any of the characters within the story.  They all seem selfish and wrapped up in themselves.  The only bright light amongst the characters, I thought, seems to be the woman that Rachel rents a room from.  The story started with an f-bomb or sexual reference dropped here or there but by the end there was quite a bit of language.  I would normally have set aside a book that does that but this one did it so infrequent in the beginning that I ignored it and kept going as the story started to entangle the perspectives of the three women and then it started to hook me.  From a Christian world view, I would have to say that it was a bit like a "train wreck", so to speak. in that you know it's going be bad and you totally know you won't like what you'll see but you just can't help yourself from keeping on looking.  It deals with alcoholism, self-esteem, lies and deception, divorce, depression, adultery, and murder.  Not a whole lot of anything light.  I was hoping that at some point there would be some kind of redemption for any of the characters so I kept on reading.  The ending I didn't like at all.   From a psychological thriller perspective I would say it did it's job well.  Suspenseful with lots of twists and turns and just enough info given at any point to keep the reader hooked because you just have to know how it all ends up.  It was hard to put down, I totally admit.  Though I will also say that until one gets rolling in the story the timelines of the women telling the story was a bit confusing and I had to keep referring back to the dates on each entry.   So when it was all over and I did set it down, I had totally mixed feelings about it.  Totally addictive to read but on the other side of the coin I said to my daughter who is a fellow reader that I really felt like I needed a light, sweet and totally cheesy story with a generous dose of heartwarming after this one. 

Reading Challenge Goals Met:  Book by a female author, A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit, A book by an author I've never read before, a mystery or thriller, a book set in a different country,


Karen said...

My mother-in-law just passed this book on to me. I read some early release on it and it sounded like a good story. But, it might be a bit intense for me right now. I'll put it on my pile for later!

Faith said...

I've been wondering about this novel! It's been on the NYTimes bestseller list for weeks now. If I read it, it most likely won't get done until our town library has a free copy (right now there is a LONG waiting list and I'm already on 2 different lists for 2 other books!) so maybe over the winter I'll get it. I think my sister read it and liked it. Right now I am totally hooked on Lisa Genova's latest...OMGOODNESS. SOOOOOO good!!!! (so far, better than Left Neglected).

nikkipolani said...

I find alternate perspectives books can be confusing to read, but easier if the audio is done with distinctive voices -- as this one was. And I agree with you on the bleakness of the characters. The only tiny ray of light, I thought, was Rachel's increasing desire and ability to remain sober. Roomie deals with girls who've had substance abuse in their past and I thought the portrayal of self-delusion was true in this book.