Out of work and gripped by a serious drinking problem, Rachel still rides the train to London and back every day, fantasizing about a couple she sees living near a house that used to be hers. When the female half of the couple goes missing, Rachel is convinced she knows the answer. But who would believe a drunk?
Every once in a while, a book is seriously hyped and I keep it at arm's length for as long as a I can. Sometimes, I regret it, like with The Martian or Gone Girl. The Girl on the Train was similarly hyped. How could I resist for long?
Well, as much as The Girl on the Train is hyped as the next Gone Girl, it ain't no Gone Girl. Here are my thoughts.
The Girl on the Train is told by three viewpoint characters: Rachel, the alcoholic jobless divorcee, Anna, Rachel's ex-husband's new wife, and Megan, the female half of the couple Rachel is entranced by. None of them are good people but I wouldn't put them in the league of Amy of Gone Girl fame. They're all varying degrees of messed up.
Rachel's drunken detective playing is entertaining but also sad. She just can't let go of Tom and is determined to help Megan's husband figure out what happened to her.
While I think Paula Hawkins does a great job of juggling three viewpoint characters and serving up plate after plate of deep-fried red herring, it still feels like an attempt to cash in on the Gone Girl hype to me. Gone is the unreliable narrator. Unfortunately, she got the less than completely sympathetic leads part right. However, it was pity I felt rather than revulsion.
As long as you aren't expecting the second coming of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train is a gripping thriller. I wolfed it down in near record time. There was just a little something missing. 3.5 out of 5 stars.