Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jess & Jason...the "perfect" couple?

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Firstly, this is one of the few books whose cover has truly intrigued me., as well as the premise. And I don't know when I've seen a book get such press!  The publishers really pushed this one, even if it is a debut novel! Not even two months following release there are 54,741 ratings on goodreads with an average of 3.96. That is unbelievable! 

Secondly, a disclaimer of sorts, I rarely read psychological thrillers. I don't like to be scared and it is next to impossible for me to get them out of my head once I finish! Yikes! Due to this, I probably would not have read this one except so many readers were "gaga" over it! 

I felt Hawkins' writing style was very effective, and I really liked her characterization, but especially her plot development. She was quite good at giving the reader just enough information to suspect-- virtually everyone-- of being a murderer. And...not just once, but multiple times it appeared plausible that each person could be "the one" as I continued through the book! 

        There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks. Light blue cloth--a shirt,   
     perhaps--jumbled up with something dirty white. It's probably rubbish, part of a load 
     dumped into the scrubby little wood up the bank. It could have been left behind by the 
     engineers who work this part of the track, they're here often enough. Or it could be 
     something else. My mother used to tell me that I had an overactive imagination... I can't 
     help it, I catch sight of these discarded scraps, a dirty T-shirt or a lonesome shoe, and 
     all I can think of is the other shoe and the feet that fitted into them. (page 1)

I rarely begin a review with a direct quote, but by the book's end this opening scene is so very ironic, while initially it was so resonant for me that it placed me in the real world, it became rather creepy and portended unreal things to come... I stopped after reading this passage, thinking to myself, how very many times have I seen abandoned clothing and wondered...about the owners, about the reason or circumstances under which these items ended up right here, in front of me at this very moment...was there a mysterious disappearance or was it simply due to careless actions that I am now looking at this clothing? I always wonder, just as Rachel always wondered. Perhaps we both just have fertile imaginations! Thus I had an immediate connection with the protagonist! (Well done, Ms. Hawkins!) :)

     I'm going to tell her that the line he used with her--"don't expect me to be sane"--he used
     it with me, too, when we were first together; he wrote it in a letter to me, declaring his 
     undying passion. It's not even his line: he stole it from Henry Miller. Everything she has 
     is secondhand. I want to know how that makes her feel. I want to...ask her, "What does
     it feel like, Anna, to live in my house, surrounded by the furniture I bought, to sleep in 
     the bed that I shared with him for years, to feed your child at the kitchen table he fucked 
     me on?" (page 34) 

Oooohhhh...can we say "bitter"? I remember that at this point I could easily imagine this unemployed down-on-her-luck alcoholic embittered woman as a murderer... And the man--this type of repetitive behavior denoted an uncaring insensitive person simply out to "con" someone to get what he wants. And exactly what does he want? I can't say I ever understood exactly what he did want or expect from life overall. However, he wasn't the only "bad man" in this book! 

Then Jess:

        When I came home this evening, my laptop was warm. He knows how to delete 
     browser histories and whatever, he can cover his tracks perfectly well, but I know that I 
     turned the computer off before I left. He's been reading my emails again. ... I don't mind, 
     because it reassures him there's nothing going on, that I'm not up to anything. And     
     that's good for me--it's good for us--even if it isn't true. And I can't really be angry with 
     him, because he has good reason to be suspicious. I've given him cause in the past 
     and probably will again. I am not a model wife. I can't be. No matter how much I love 
     him, it won't be enough. (page 46)

Now that is just plain BAD, in my opinion! Why stay married? Money? I don't know, but it's rather obvious she is not faithful to her partner. But then, he is certainly no prince charming, either!

     We shouldn't, we ought not to, but we will. It won't be the last time. He won't say no to 
     me. I was thinking about it on the way home, and that's the thing I like most about it, 
     having power over someone. That's the intoxicating thing. (page 47)

        Being the other woman is a huge turn-on, there's no point denying it: you're the one 
     he can't help but betray his wife for, even though he loves her. That's just how 
     irresistable you are. (page 233)  

Sick! Absolutely sick, in my humble opinion! 

        He follows me and I take off my clothes as I'm going up the stairs, and when we get 
     there, when he pushes me down on the bed, I'm not even thinking about him, but it 
     doesn't matter because he doesn't know that. I'm good enough to make him believe 
     that it's all about him. (page 49)

Hah! And that was with the husband! Trust say these characters are flawed is a massive understatement! In fact, this book felt a bit "noir-ish" to me, in that there was no character who felt likable to me, except the baby! A baby is always innocent and likeable, right?!? ;) I suppose I could relate to Rachel's struggles, though she needed lots of help, at the very least! As she says, "None of us is perfect." (page 106) And that, my friends, rather sums up this book! 

The main way in which this was scary to me (Remember, I don't like to be scared!) was that it could be true! These characters are all believable, even if so flawed! I really wanted some more positivism in this book--it truly left me on a bit of a "downer." And...for my money, while I thought TGotT was a good read, Tana French's Broken Harbor was much creepier to me. 

Have you read this one yet? What did you think? 


  1. I've been avoiding this one specifically because of all the exposure it's had. I'm seeing this book everywhere, there are even ads for this book on our subways. It's insane! I know the fact that it's everywhere makes me feel as if my opinion of the book will already be somewhat pre-formed, and I hate that. This makes me feel like I should give it a chance anyway.

    1. I understand exactly what you mean! However, I was purposefully vague in my own review regarding the plot because in many ways the story wasn't what I expected it to be. Hawkins does a great job with the plot and building suspicion. And honestly, unless you read reviews that include spoilers, I think you may well be surprised. Anyway, it read rather quickly and was entertaining. Really made me consider human nature. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you do decide to give it a shot! :)