Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Girl on the Train (2015) Book Review - No Spoilers

No Spoilers! 

Not since Gone Girl has a mystery book been so widely hyped. Rightly so, too, as this book actually deserves every good review and advertisement screaming its praises that seems to have been floating around for the last few months. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was actually released in January but its prominence in the literary world and its popularity has experienced a kind of snowball effect, and now it is being made into a film directed by Tate Taylor, according to IMDb he's only been a director for around three films, one being The Help and the others being relatively small. Apparently it will also star Emily Blunt as TGOTT's main narrator, an overweight, unreliable, alcoholic, compulsive liar. Sounds just like Emily Blunt, doesn't it?

It's hard not to picture this novel as a film when you're reading it though, it's fast paced with loads of settings and different view points, and there are plenty of creative opportunities for the drunken flash backs, blackouts, memories, sober flashbacks and piecing together the night in question. The characters all seem equally as guilty throughout and it really is impossible to pin down who could be the murderer. Each character has hidden depths that the novel slowly delves into and uncovers, and they are all connected in a web of lies, deceit and intrigue that unravels until the very final pages when all is revealed.

I actually thought this book was really well paced for how slowly things were revealed. It builds tension to the point where skipping to the last page to find out everything is ridiculously tempting. Characters who seem the guiltiest are sometimes the most innocent, and the most innocent characters have unexpected, hidden secrets seemingly linking them to the crime. 

My only problem was that when seeing the story from Rachel's POV is that she dwells too much on repetitive issues every single chapter. There are full paragraphs of "should I do this? Should I do that?" or alternatively "what happened that night? Who is he/she? What did I do?" The repetitiveness of it is a bit grating after a while but because of the mystery you keep ploughing through for answers regardless of the occasionally low standard of writing. Also the conclusion of the story, while satisfying, seemed a bit cliché. The criminal, after a whole novel of believable and relatable characters, suddenly changes their personality completely after being exposed to become a stereotypical baddie.

Otherwise in The Girl on the Train, the mystery was well executed, the tension built expertly, the story satisfyingly concluded, the characters realistic and intriguing, the story well paced. I would recommend this even to people not well acquainted with mystery novels.