the girl on the train book review

‘The Girl On The Train’ by Paula Hawkins – Book + Bonus Movie Review

In All, Book Reviews by Nya27 Comments

I was offered the hardcover of The Girl On The Train last Christmas by Sarah @Sarah’s Bookshelf. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, but we all know how it works for us book bloggers: we can’t manage our TBR. So now that my boyfriend wanted to watch the movie, I really, really needed to read the book first (I always need to read the book first). So I’ve decided to write here my opinion about both the book and the movie. And don’t worry, no comparisons to Gone Girl included. The star rating refers to the book.


the girl on the train paula hawkinsThe Girl On The Train

by Paula Hawkins
Published by Riverhead Books
Publication date: January 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Amazon US Amazon UK

 

Personal Experience:

 

Quote:

“There’s nothing so painful, so corrosive, as suspicion.”

The Worst: The unlikable characters.

The Best: The foreshadowing. The right balance between predictable and unexpected.

Who should read it? Anyone, I’ve always thought this type of books can reach any type of audience.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 


The Plot

Of course, the plot, once dissected, is basic. You have your usual suspects, and you know, in the end, one of them has to be the ‘killer’. This means while it was easy to predict the end in some way,  many other possible endings would be as equally easy to predict. In this case, I thought the narrative flowed smoothly. It makes the reader gain awareness until it finally…gives the confirmation it was heading towards to. So it’s a good sign that you were suspecting it would end the way it did. It was coherent, with the right balance between being predictable but not entirely expected. The pace was good and fast. No major complaints.

The Characters

Many of the readers seem to mention the characters are unlikable and difficult to relate to, and based on a first impression, I would agree. Now we need to remember that at least two of the main characters are clearly unstable (for different reasons) and both are suffering some kind of post-traumatic disorder (we easily learn that after). In the end, the whole cast is human. Ugly, flawed, human. Again, and as I’ve mentioned before in some other book review, this is something that the mainstream audience has problems with. We as human beings always think we are better somehow. We always think we’d never be in the situation these characters were, or make decisions as stupid as they did, or or ever hit rock bottom like that. So, at some point, we don’t even feel sorry for these characters anymore. They frustrate us, due to their weakness. Hey, human for you.

All of this to say I’ve actually enjoyed exploring their minds through the pages. Even if as a whole, the characters might not be relatable, their issues are. Suspicion, jealousy, self-doubt, guilt, and so many other emotions that we are all way too familiar with.

The Writing Style

The story is narrated in first person and from three different POVs. In my opinion, Anna’s POV was unnecessary. The less POVs, the higher the suspense. The author’s writing style is strong, short and sweet, straight to the point. Hawkins’ foreshadowing techniques were implemented at all the right points, and made you wonder (aka turn the page).

Overall, The Girl On The Train is a page turner. Whether you find the end predictable or not, you will want the final confirmation, and you won’t stop until you get to the end of the book.


 

The Movie

 

girl on the train movie

 

From the point of view of someone who has read the book, it’s always interesting and curious to see those characters you have imagined in your head coming to life in the screen.

But that was it.

In short, I didn’t like the movie that much. It’s difficult to judge how suspenseful it was, considering I already knew how everything would end. However, it seemed to miss several points where the book mostly succeeded in piquing the reader’s curiosity. Many details were revealed way too soon, while other characters weren’t explored enough for you to even care or be surprised in the end. The location was different, the people felt different. Emily Blunt was great though, she really gave life to the role of Rachel, making her alcoholic issues feel believable and real. Now we all know a movie is not a novel, and a novel is not a movie. Changes had to be made. The funny thing is that they seemed to keep what they shouldn’t and get rid of what they could make use of. For example, the movie tried to use the same style of PoVs as the book – I personally think they failed. The same can be said about the messy timeline attempt and wrong order of events. And finally, for a thriller, the pace feels ways too slow. It makes me glad I’ve read the book first.

Comments

  1. I read the book and I loved it. It reminds me of Gone Girl. It’s also interesting to hear that you don’t like the movie, I’m actually excited when I saw the trailer. But yes, like most movie adaptations, they most of the time fails to live up to the book.

  2. Very informative post! I have read the book but not seen the film! I am hoping too but hope i am not as disappointed as you were. Its often that the films don’t usually live up to the book, maybe one day directors will get it right…

  3. I read Girl On The Train. I figured out the ending early but I still enjoyed the book. I’ve heard the movie isn’t as good and it made me not want to see it. I have also found that if I watch the movie first, I can enjoy the book better. I watched Gone Girl first and loved it and read the book and loved it. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the movie if I had done it the other way around.
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  4. I personally am a movie person. Will anyday opt for a movie than a book but I know for a fact that books are more enlightening in their own way.

  5. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’d love to. Great review! Very interesting. It’s a great reminder for me. Thanks for that!

  6. Same as you I want to read the book first before watching it. The story may different in the movie since they need to show it for two hours only. I want to watch this one also, I don’t know that there is a book pala. Now I have to buy one first.

  7. That’s the thing with reading a book first before watching a movie version, rather than doing it the other way around. I have seen the title and synopsis of the movie and thought it was interesting enough for me to want to watch. I haven’t though.

    Even if I were to have a copy of the book, I would not read until I watch. Why? Because the book will always be better than the movie. The great thing about books is that no matter how the author builds up a character, how you perceive that character may not exactly be the same as how I perceive, and anyone else. In short, the book allows us the freedom to imagine. Movies on the other hand, feeds us. They either do it well or fail miserably.
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  8. I’m more of a movie person but have a few selection of books I’m still in the middle of picking up. Always disappointed for those I read and the movie adaptation which this book seems to fit into. Book sounds interesting and I like that the main characters are unstable and human, much to the disliking of mainstream audiences. Will give it a try sometime!

  9. I have an ebook copy of The girl on the train but never read it yet. Im planning to watch the movie first for me to still get the feeling wherein you’re guessing who’s who. I always read the book first too before and I want it to try the other way around this time. I always have the same opinion of having the book as the better version than the movie so let’s see if wathcing rhe movie first will change my mind. 🙂
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  10. Just read this! Yes I agree with you, from the start of just didn’t like any of the characters. It was like I didn’t ant to read it but found myself turning all the pages in 2 days until the end!! I did guess half way through though who the culprit was….. great book! I haven’t seen the film but kinda don’t want to but do at the same time! ! Gaaaaaa ree love30
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  11. I didn’t know the movie was adapted from a novel! and from the movie title, the poster and just one commented i’ve heard about the movie, i actually didn’t think it’s the suspenseful kind of thriller movie at all. yes, that comment mentioned that it’s a very slow moving, but not boring movie. now you made me curious about the movie. perhaps i will watch it first, and then find the book. somehow, i prefer to watch the movie adaptation first before going for the book because the book tends to have so much more details that the movie would have to leave out.
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    1. Author

      Oh that’s a really interesting perspective, since I’m exactly the opposite. I need to read the book first, because after I’ve watched the movie, my imagination doesn’t work on a book anymore since I already have the visuals in my head.

  12. I havent read or seen the movie but will definitely add this to my reading list. As for the movie i prefer reading the book first and then watching the movie – always. Haven’t read a mystery book now since some time so will start with this one
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  13. The Girl on the Train sounds like a really good book. Always nice to score a free copy! I try not to watch movies after I read the book as it always turns out to be a disappointment. Books are always better!

  14. I haven’t read the book yet, nor seen the movie. But I have heard of the girl on the train. And I was still doubting whether to go and watch it and read it or not. I saw the trailer and that looked okay. But I wasn’t completely convinced yet. I like to read it’s an addictive read. I want to read more, but to start again I need a books that keeps me coming back to read further. I’m curious to find out what I would think about the characters! Now I’ve read your review, I decided to read the book first. And then maybe also try out the movie.
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  15. From the title itself i knew it was a good book. I suck in readinb actually, i cannot finish one book in ages. And its ridiculous! Kidding aside, i love books that are ultimately a page turner, like i wanted to finish the story in one sitting and your review of this book makes me want to get a copy, sit on a couch and read all day long!

  16. I’ve been seeing this book displayed in the bookstore window (each time I passed-by) and I’m actually curious about the story plus the movie. But because it’s Emily Blunt, well I would definitely watch. I like her!

  17. I’ve been reading this lately but I haven’t got to the middle part of it. I don’t know maybe the words are too deep, I just couldn’t get my head right. But hopefully, I could read it and finish it when I have the time. Thanks for sharing your review. I was intrigued. Most people say it has a Gone Girl kind of feel, is it true? Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your review. 🙂

    1. Author

      Most people do compare it with ‘Gone Girl’ but to be honest I’ve never read it. They say it’s better, so I might add it to my TBR 🙂

  18. Very interesting, it sounds like a good book. I’ll add it to my seemingly never ending reading list lol.

  19. Wonderful post! I’ve read the book already & I can’t wait until I get to see the movie. The book was wonderful though 😀

  20. Okay so this is the second review of this same book I’m stumbling on in less than a week!
    If this isn’t a sign I need to get my copy, I’m not sure what would be 🙂
    (The plot catches my attention every time)

  21. I don’t think I’m going to read the book as it won’t feel the same now that I know the end, but I guess I’d have preferred to read it before watching the movie. The movie isn’t bad, but it’s not good either. So from a perspective without reading the book, the ending can be predictable for people who eat a lot of thrillers, but it’s predictable for anyone when they reveal the key clue too early as you said. The different POV and time-line were confusing as you mentioned, the pace sometimes too slow even though at some point I got hooked and wanted to know what happened. But it’s mostly Emily Blunt that hooked me from her brilliant alcoholism act. You can smell the alcohol on her just by watching her and the close-up increased this feeling. I don’t know on the book, but even in the movie Anna’s POV wasn’t necessary. We need her only to to know Tom more, but Anna doesn’t have enough depth to be interesting. And the last scene on the train was a bit too cheesy for me. Overall it’s a basic thriller that is entertaining but nothing extraordinary except for Emily Blunt acting.
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