If we had to boil our review of Paula Hawkins’ debut novel, The Girl On The Train to a short and to the point directive to readers, it would just be something along the lines of, “just read it for yourself”, because it’s a brilliantly tense suspense thriller that you’re better off knowing as little about as possible before picking it up. The very fact that we’ve alluded to the tension, suspense and thrilling nature of the book already gives away too much, so if you haven’t read it yet, just take our word for its exhilarating delivery, cut your losses on the rest of our review and get started on the novel right now.
For anyone stubborn enough to still be reading, The Girl On The Train was released on hardback and unabridged audiobook on the 13th January 2015, and it’s gone on to be the year’s first big hit novel, storming it’s way to the top of most bestseller charts. With comparisons to Gone Girl, we really wouldn’t be surprised to see it getting a movie adaptation in the not too distant future, but for book lovers everywhere, the real joy will come in getting to read the scintillating story now, before it becomes a bit too well known to surprise (the movie adaptation went on to be confirmed for a 2016 release).
The plot is set in London as the intertwined lives of a group of mostly fractured people collide with terrifying consequences. As we’re keen to steer clear of giving too much of the game away, we’re going to keep our review of the storyline fairly top line. Essentially, Rachel is a troubled alcoholic who catches the same trains in and out of London every day, which stops regularly at a signal overlooking a terraced house. She’s become enthralled with the imagined life of the couple that live in the house as she looks out on them every day, but when she sees something out of the ordinary she discovers that she knows enough to become a part of their lives herself, and the stage is set for an addictive drama that you’ll find difficult to put down.
One of the cleverest devices in the book is the narrative structure, which switches perspective repeatedly between three of the main characters, as they reveal snippets of their lives with date and time stamped introductions, letting you build up a picture of what’s happening with drip-fed and juicy revelations. It helps to build the psychological undercurrents of Paula Hawkins’ novel, giving you a chance to see through the three different windows of life to get a glimpse of their unique view point, flawed personality, mindset and motivations.
It also allows for a very rounded construction of characters, which are impressively crafted, broken and flawed in their own unique ways. The interactions are faultless, with a great sense of reality throughout the escalating drama and intrigue of the story. It’s unwaveringly true to the nature of the characters without a single moment of disbelief, or suspicion that what you’re reading might not be a true representation of actual events as it draws you tighter into its complex folds.
As well as being a gripping read, The Girl On The Train is also very well written with evocative description, tennis match dialogue and a picking internal monologue that gives you just enough to keep you guessing, but never enough to give the truth away for sure. Within the first fifty pages you’ll be hooked, just like Rachel, and you’ll want to keep tracing the lines of the stories with increasingly aggressive thirst until you’re finally rewarded at the end with an almighty head rush of a conclusion.
It’s a heavy hitting first novel by Paula Hawkins with a gritty, nail-biting storyline that keeps you locked in to its claustrophobic confines right the way through to the bitter end. The paperback release probably won’t be out for the better part of a year, but in this case the added expense of the hardback or audiobook is well worth it, and don’t be surprised to see Rachel, Megan and Anna’s twisted lives coming to life on the big screen at some time in the not too distant future.
The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins review: 4.7/5