Reviewing Paula Hawkins’s book: The Girl On The Train, a thriller told through the eyes of three different women. What is it about, and how does it all connect to each other.
In 2015, The Girl On The Train came out of nowhere to become a bestseller with a film version that is being played in theaters today. When I first picked this book up all I knew about it was the title and nothing else in terms of the storyline. This novel is cleverly written, moving from one unreliable character to another, splitting the narrative between three women.
Meet Rachel, the protagonist and a flawed alcoholic who is a shadow of her old self. Rachel observes the world around her as she travels by train everyday creating her own world within it. Anna, the newer wife of a man called Tom, who chose her over Rachel, is the second woman. And finally Megan, a beautiful woman who lives in the house Rachel used to live in and focuses on her travels by train.
The protagonist created by Paula Hawkins is flawed in every way. She’s not only an alcoholic, but she also suffers from blackouts and is an overweight unattractive woman. Hawkins has succeeded in vividly depicting the image and personality of Rachel, making the reader wonder whether she deserves to be liked and sympathized with or not.
As the story develops and significant events take place, Rachel seems to become more irrational and instead of staying away, she decides to become an integral part of the narrative. Questions surrounding the mysterious events are answered gradually as the storyline unfolds through Rachel’s unconventional ways of getting involved, as she battles her alcohol addiction and memory lapses.
The plot is cleverly written in that it is told through three characters, so it is presented in three different ways. The story as a series of alternating points of views can be tricky and gimmicky. Hawkins, however, was able to pull off the technique while giving little information in every chapter as the storyline unfolds little by little. The writing style is cinematic and vivid. The ending plays like a movie scene with perhaps too much melodrama, but this can be forgiven as the events leading to the ending are perfectly written.
What makes this novel an intriguing piece is the writer’s presentation of the limits of human imagination and knowledge, showing this through the eyes of Rachel and in how she builds a whole world around two people she sees through the window of the train. It also succeeds in gripping the readers because of this same unusual, imperfect and flawed protagonist.
The themes of this book are dark and unreliable, just like the main character. Infidelity, murder, and darkness are the most obvious themes. The novel is a fast-paced psychological thriller that can easily keep its reader glued to its pages due to the twisted artful storytelling ways of Paula Hawkins. To those who have read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, this novel is the more polished and toned out sister. It is true that it is not as dark as Gone Girl, but it is part of the same genre and doesn’t seem to disappoint! This is a definitely recommended book for those who love mystery and thrillers. A must read!
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)
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