Thursday, February 19, 2015
"The Girl on the Train": Get Me Off Of This Ride
I know that "The Girl on the Train" is the "IT" book right now. Everyone is comparing it to "Gone Girl" because of the mystery, the intensity of it, and the thrill ride and pace of the plot. I couldn't wait to read it, and was bummed when we went on vacation and it had not arrived at the library yet for me to take with me.
When I saw it at the airport bookstore, I bought it even with the hefty hardcover price. Having a good book with me makes any vacation feel complete. I started to read it and was immediately sucked into the story of Rachel, a depressed, jilted, obsessive, alcoholic who is pretty much a train wreck. She spends her mornings and early evenings on the London bound commuter train staring out the window and making story lines about one stop in particular and one couple in particular. She's basically stalking the couple from the train until one day she sees something that disturbs her and that sets even more disturbing events into motion.
I can't reveal too much more about the plot or the characters because it will spoil the book which many of you will read even if I tell you not to. Because that's what I'm going to do - tell you not to read this book, which will then make you want to read it even more.
Why should you stay away from Paula Hawkins' thriller that is gracing the Bestseller list and flying off the shelves (even at the airport bookstore)? The characters are all so unlikeable that it didn't really matter to me what happened to them after I read the first 100 pages (which I did read very quickly). I get it. We all have a dark side, but when ALL the women are depressed and co-dependent in some way or another (a door mat, a stalker alcoholic, a stay at home narcissistic brat, and a liar and cheater), and all the men are abusive tyrants, it makes for an unlikeable cast of characters that might even deserve the tragedies that befall them. This is a VERY harsh statement, too because what happens to them isn't really all that pleasant. But I know that you know the feeling in a horror movie when the dumb girl leaves by herself to take a midnight walk in the woods because she is depressed about her ex-boyfriend and she doesn't listen to the advice of all of her friends to stay close and then the guy with the chainsaw comes up behind her and she just stands there crying before she even hears the chainsaw, and then you think "you had it coming to you because you are a ridiculous human being" . . . well, that's what I felt pretty much the whole way through this book.
It also feels much like being on a commuter train - monotonous, repetitive, and dreary.
The writing was okay, but nothing too bold or beautiful. Getting the multiple perspectives from the different, broken women was nice, but may have revealed too much. It would have been an interesting twist to just stick with Rachel's perspective the entire novel. With such an unreliable narrator, the book could have created more edginess or even more intensity. It certainly would have lead to a more dramatic and original unfolding. It's no good when the reader can figure out the mystery with over 100 pages yet to read.
I wanted to like this book, but it wasn't what I thought it would be. I regret spending the money on it at the airport bookstore and regret even more that now I own it. This isn't a book I will be loaning to others unless they insist that they must read it, which I know that even after I tell them not to, they will anyway.