Contemporary, Mystery, Review, Thriller

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


This is a story of nasty dudes and naive women. I loved it. It’s being compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but that’s not a good comparison. They are both amazing in their own ways and for very different reasons. This book has so many questions that have to be answered. Is Megan dead or did she run away? Both are plausible. Why is Rachel so obsessed with her? Is it just her imagination? Why is Tom so passive of Rachel’s constant intrusions? Who is sleeping with who? Does Anna have any redeeming qualities?

The characters are flawed and some are downright detestable. The story focuses on three women: Rachel, the drunk who can’t let go of her ex-husband, Anna, the one who stole him away, and Megan, the beautiful missing woman.

Rachel was a great character to read. She is completely broken and her only escape is with alcohol. The story is told from first-person perspective and doesn’t have a whole lot of dialogue, so her chapters were desperate and lonely. I could put myself in her shoes. She is someone who is easy to pity, as she travels the train everyday, pretending to go to a job that she was fired from months ago. Every day she looks at a house, only a few down from where she once lived, and watches a loving couple. She creates a make-believe world around them, perfect in every way. It’s an obvious set-up for disappointment.

Anna is not likeable. At no point in the book did I feel anything for her but contempt. She knowingly begins an affair with a married man, none other than Rachel’s husband Tom, and effectively steals him away. Granted, Rachel’s depression makes it easy for her. At one point, while she’s admiring her and Tom’s sleeping baby, she remembers the days of sneaking around with him and admits that she misses being a mistress. She loved the sense of danger and wishes she could go back to it. All she feels towards Rachel is disgust. She was a good chunk of the book and suffice it to say that her chapters filled me with my own sense of disgust, aimed at her.

Next is Megan, the one I’m not sure how to feel about. Partly, she reminds me of Anna, with her “I don’t care about anyone but me” attitude, but she also reminds me of Rachel, with her struggle against depression and insomnia. Her tragic past is the only part of her character that I could stand, as the rest of the time she’s thinking purely about herself and her memories of when she ran an art gallery and had men drooling over her. Surely, she would be appalled to be compared to Rachel, who is described as being overweight, drunk, and repulsive. Megan’s selfishness is sometimes nauseating, but then a wee bit of humanity shines through. Ultimately, I felt sorry for her, but I didn’t like her.

The men in the story are a puzzle. There’s good and bad. It’s a confusing mess and I wasn’t always sure which man I was reading about through these women’s thoughts. Have no fear, the book did not leave me with a total sense of hopelessness concerning men in general, even though the author did not show them in a positive light.

It’s definitely a mystery. I had inklings all the way through, but it wasn’t until about seventy percent through that I said, “Ah-ha!” I’m always impressed with a book that can keep me guessing more than halfway through and this one definitely did. It wasn’t a huge surprise to me, but it was an unpleasant one. In the beginning, everything is up in the air. No one is safe from doubt, not even poor Rachel. Nothing is completely settled until the very end, as it should be, leading to a perfectly short and powerful climax.

The end was fulfilling, yet a little disappointing. I do not like happy-happy endings, but this one lacked hope. It was hinted at, but only one of these women gets to speak and her thoughts are still terrified and troubled. I would have liked to see more resolution for her. As it was, it felt sort of incomplete. My takeaway is that everyone lives in their own distorted version of reality and when the truth shows up it can have devastating repurcussions. So, don’t lie and don ‘t cheat.

For the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – it’s a mystery and thriller. Reading age is adult, due to some really difficult scenes and references, including excessive drinking by more than one of the characters. Sometimes I wondered how they were able to stand up.
  • The level of sexuality – for the amount of cheating involved, it was surprisingly mild. There weren’t actual sex scenes, but memories of trysts and a morning after.
  • Was there graphic language? Not much.
  • Did I cry? Nope.
  • Is it part of a series? Nope.
  • Level of character development was very high. Out of the three men and three women who make up the story, only one was a bit weak. The others were strong and I could see them in my mind.
  • Did I laugh? Nope.

This was a fantastically-written story and once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down, literally. I stayed up late into the night with this one. I’m happy to give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars. It was almost perfect.

Available here on Amazon


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