The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Book Review

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This is the first full-length novel I’ve listened to as an audiobook. It was a very interesting experience. It really enhanced my experience of this book. I feel like I would not have enjoyed it as much if I had read it, which is odd.

I’ve heard The Girl on the Train compared to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and I can see why. It has the same sort of build-up and the same sort of construct. I think fans of Gone Girl will enjoy this. I think I even enjoyed it more than I did Gone Girl. It might be because I listened to it while I read Gone Girl. Which I think gave me less time to think about what was happening and to figure out what was happening. When you read, you can just stop and think about it, re-read paragraphs, go back a couple of chapters and re-read something which makes it a lot easier to pick up clues and work it out. I suppose you can do that with an audiobook as well, but it’s more difficult and too much trouble.

When I read Gone Girl, I had more or less figured it out halfway through the book. I mean, the book was still a major mindfuck, but I did figure it out. With this, it was only very close to the reveal that I began to suspect what was happening. I was just as disoriented as Rachel, which was kind of trippy and really created tension. My suspicions shifted alongside hers and one moment, I’d be sure I knew who’d done it and the next, I would think it was someone else. It was great!

I’ve reached the conclusion that thrillers work really well as audiobooks. Especially if they’re well narrated. Louise Brealey narrated Megan, which is something I hadn’t bothered to read before starting it, and for like half the book I kept trying to figure out why her voice was so familiar. All the narrators did a really good job though. They really captured the voice and personality of each of the three characters.

I’ve always loved stories that deal with messed up people, of people being driven to insanity. Dark, gritty stories about how low humanity can sink to. I’m not sure why, but judging by the amount of films and books that deal with things like this, I’m not the only one. The Girl on the Train did it very well. It’s a story about lies, about vice and deception, about anger and mental instability. About people who are flawed and they know they are, they realize how messed up they are, but they lack the willpower to do anything about it. It’s about complacency in one’s own depravity.

**SPOILER ALERT – MINOR SPOILERS FROM HERE ON. NOTHING THAT GIVES AWAY THE PLOT, BUT MINOR SPOILERS ABOUT THE CHARACTERS

I think Megan was my favourite (could be partially because of Lou). She was so messed up. Well, they were all messed up, but in different ways. Rachel was an alcoholic, Anna was low-key a psychopath, but Megan was paranoid and panicky and damaged and just the right amount of crazy that she was the most interesting for me to get into her mind.

Rachel was interesting too, I have to say. I’ve never personally drunk so much that I blacked out and it’s an interesting mindset to be thrust into. Not being able to remember what you’ve done, what happened, having to piece everything together from small scraps. I love puzzles. I always have, and while I have no interest in ever experiencing a blackout, sifting through Rachel’s was fascinating.

Anna, I didn’t like at all. The tone of her voice, the way she thought. I didn’t like her at all. She just felt so vicious and vindictive, which is why I said she’s low-key a psychopath. I think “total bitch” is a better term. Still, she added a valuable perspective to the story. One that just made everything more confusing, which was great.

**SPOILERS END.

All in all, The Girl on the Train is a compelling thriller that you’ll just want to keep reading. It really did make me a bit jittery and paranoid, which is what I want from a thriller. I do recommend listening to it as an audiobook if you can, I really believe it enhances the experience.

 

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