Thursday, 18 June 2015

Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

I’d been meaning to read The Girl on the Train for a while – daunted by the fact that it had a similar title to one of my thrillers (Girl on a Train) – which came out the year before, by the way - for those who have asked! I was also aware that the two books were getting mixed up by readers, as you might imagine.

Well – I finally got around to finding out what all the fuss was about – and Paula Hawkins’ book is indeed a stonking good read! In fact, it is an excellent example of a psychological thriller with unreliable and damaged narrators with everyone in the book covering things up, telling lies, pretending, making assumptions and being unable to trust anyone – not even the police officers provide an oasis of safety.

When I consider the actual storyline, it’s relatively straight forward – based around a single crime, but it’s the execution that is key. Paula uses every device known to authors in order to create a book that moves forward faster than the Eurostar and is extremely hard to put down. There are short alternating chapters with drama or conflict of some kind on almost every page. Every scene has something within it that, according to whichever of the three narrators is centre-stage, is unexplained, or confusing or ‘not quite right’, which leaves the reader with a perpetual sense of ‘what’s going on?’

Have you ever used a ‘fitball’ or wobble board at the gym? This book is like being on one of those – you don’t know which way you’re going to be tipped at any moment. There is a relentless tug around who the bad guy is – when all of the characters (apart from Rachel’s flatmate), seem to be plotting, hiding something, sneaking around or behaving shamefully in some way.

Don’t expect a smooth ride to the next stop – there's not a lot of time to admire the view. Not the kind of writing I would always want from a book - but I loved it!

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AJ Waines is the author of: The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
  •  Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.
  •  Girl on a Train also became a Number One Bestseller in the entire Kindle Chart in Australia (2015)
  •  Awarded Amazon KDP All-Star Bonus for being a Top 100 most-read Author in UK (2015)

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