Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


The Girl on the Train is a page-turning thriller told from the alternating perspectives of three female characters. The intrigue begins when Rachel (the alcoholic main character) realizes that something she witnessed could be related to the disappearance of a young woman she feels connected to, even though they have never met. You see, Rachel observes people and things closely during frequent train commutes and becomes captivated by one couple (Megan and Scott), in particular. She goes so far as to assign them names, professions, hobbies and even behavioral characteristics. This might sound weird, but doesn’t everyone do this? Make assumptions about others based on outward appearances? Then, we often find out our assumptions were wrong; either people do not deserve the bad rap we’ve assigned them, or people are hiding much darker secrets and personality traits than we imagined. The latter becomes increasingly obvious to Rachel with each new revelation she learns about the real Megan and Scott—individually and as a couple.

I was immediately drawn in by Rachel. She’s lonely, depressed and self-deprecating, and she makes terrible decisions due to her alcoholism and obsessive desire to be involved in Megan’s case. The funny thing is I liked her anyway and felt a lot of sympathy for her. Megan was harder for me to like, but by the end, my heart broke for her. And then there’s Anna, who I disliked from the moment she was introduced to end. As annoying and infuriating as Anna is throughout the story, she’s also very crucial; you just have to wait until the end to find out why.

Hawkins did an excellent job of building suspense. The way she gradually reveals tidbits about the characters while switching from perspective to perspective held my interest throughout the novel and kept me guessing.

One thing I had a hard time with was the way Rachel’s and Anna’s parts were happening in the present, but Megan’s parts were from the past. I found myself constantly flipping back and forth to check dates throughout the first half of the book, and even a few times later on. Overall, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the story, but it might annoy readers who don’t like having to create a mental timeline of events. Another thing that bothered me was who ended up being responsible for Megan’s disappearance, not because I liked this particular character but because it just seemed too convenient.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense.



Personal Tidbits

E-book or Paperback?

My husband recently said he thinks the days of print books are numbered. My initial reaction was to call his prediction ridiculous. But later that night, as I read a Kindle book on my iPad, it occurred to me that I have not read a print book in five months. So I began pondering my reasons for choosing e-books over print books.

E-books are:

  • less expensive
  • available with the click of a few buttons
  • adjustable (font size and orientation, lighting)
  • convenient for note taking and highlighting
  • easy to store

Then I tried to think of a good reason to purchase a print book over an e-book. Sadly, I couldn’t think of one.

Fast-forward three weeks to today.

I had just loaded two of my kids into the car and was running late to pick up the third from chess club. Noticing a couple of packages on the porch as I backed out of the driveway, I quickly hopped out and grabbed them. One was from Random House. It only took my brain seconds to register that I’d finally received my advanced reader copy of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (through the LibaryThing Early Reviewers program). My heart rate actually increased. Weird, I know, especially since I have never been so excited to receive an ARC. The only explanation I have for my enthusiasm is that this ARC was a paperback. I wanted to rip the package open immediately, but I just didn’t have time. Instead, I thought about the brand new paperback the entire time it took me to pick up my son and feed my family. When I finally tore into the package, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Holding the book reminded me how much I love the feel and smell, among other things, of print books.

So why buy a print book over an e-book? How about because there’s nothing quite like holding an actual book and being able to hug it to your chest? (Yes, I admit it. I hugged it.) I also look forward to dog-earing the pages of The Girl on the Train, not worrying if it is going to fall off the bed if I nod off while reading it and sharing it with friend after friend after friend.

Which do you prefer, e-book or paperback? Why?