While choosing a few books at Amazon Brazil’s website last year, there was a buzz about the book “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins. So I decided to check it out!
Different from many other times I’ve chosen a book to read, the cover (Brazilian edition) did not attracted me at all. And the title wasn’t very attractive either. But as I read the book description, I decided to give it a try for two main reasons.
The first one was because, based on its description, it looks like a girly book. Who is close to me knows that, eventually, I like to read this kind of book. Besides, I strongly believe it is good for women to do some girly things once in a while. And I had some memorable experiences with this kind of book before.
The second reason was because it was classified as a psychological thriller. And again, this is a book (or movie) genre I enjoy a lot reading (or watching). The psychological appeal while reading the book description was considerable. So I decided to give it a try and buy it (with four other books – one already reviewed here).
A few weeks later, as soon as I arrived in Brazil, among all the four books I’d bought, I chose to read this one. I was feeling thirsty to read something that could mess up with my mind. But, unfortunately, this wasn’t the case…
The book tells the story of Rachel, Megan, and Anna. They are not friends, but their lives are, somehow, intertwined.
Rachel is the main character. She takes the same train everyday to go to work. And while traveling, she observes the houses near the tracks, as well as their residents. Rachel pays especial attention to the couple that lives at 15 Beckett Road. She imagines how their lives could be, their routines, their occupations, their likes… She even names them “Jess and Jason,” and feels jealous about their perfect romantic life. She also pays attention to a house next to theirs, the one that used to be her house when she was married, a few years ago.
Megan is probably the youngest of them. She describes her life as an incredible mess, and has regular sessions with her psychologist. She is married to Scott and has a big secret. But, more importantly, she is “Jess”, the woman Rachel observes from the train everyday.
Anna is married to Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband. And they seem to have a perfect life, except for Rachel, who chases them day and night. Not only Rachel has drinking problems, but she is also completely obsessed by them, calling Tom constantly, even trying to abduct their child once!
However, Rachel’s psychotic routine changes when she sees “Jess” kissing a guy that is not “Jason”. Feeling the urge to do something, she decides to stop drinking and go after them. And this is when “Jess,” or rather, Megan, is given as missing. Trying to help Megan’s husband (Scott) to find out what happened, and having some messy memories in her mind, Rachel embarks on what should be a psychological thriller. Unfortunately, in my opinion, that’s not completely true.
Despite all the girly books I’ve ever read, this one is not completely predictable, which is good. The organization is interesting too, since the story is written in a way that makes us travel through the suspense under different circumstances. It goes back and forth in time, and shows the main events from the perspective of the three women. I liked that. I also liked the descriptions. It was easy to visualize all the scenarios.
However, for me, this book is nothing but cold. And how can a thriller be considered a thriller if it is cold? I missed the affliction and agony that this kind of story should make us feel. I was expecting more of it. More importantly: I was expecting more from Rachel, the main character.
Rachel is obsessed and looks like she has no life of her own, which is OK for me. But despite of her obsession, she does not seem to be alive. She is dull, apathetic. And it must have been this apathy of Rachel that dictated the rhythm of the whole story. Especially its end, which was very frustrating. It was completely superficial, going against the passion and the obsession Rachel presented almost the whole book. Even when big things happened, she acted in a very impersonal and cold way.
Given that people usually don’t have plenty of time to waste, and there is an infinite number of better books to read out there, I don’t recommend it. The reading wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t enjoyable either. Maybe if somebody decides to read it, just considering as a fiction book, it could be a acceptable reading. But I was expecting more.