You Call That a Thriller?!

image of the girl on the rain

Riverhead Books, 2015. 325 pgs.

The Girl on the Train

By: Paula Hawkins

The TBR (to-be-read) shelf is a magical and dangerous part of every bookworm’s life. It has the mysterious ability to continuously grow and accommodate new purchases, threatening to eat all of a bookworm’s money. At the same time, the TBR shelf is kind of like a cactus; we water it occasionally then forget about it. This summer, I finally decided to read some of the books on the shelf, but if you’ve been reading my reviews you know I haven’t read much I’ve liked.


I guess the problem with the TBR shelf is that some of the purchases are so old the books seem like they belong to another lifetime. We buy the books at different stages in our reading journey, then move on.


I really thought I’d like The Girl on the Train because I enjoyed watching Gone Girl. I haven’t read the book, but in general I like to read and watch thrillers. The Girl on the Train is classified as a thriller, but there’s nothing thrilling about it. It was slow-moving, and I couldn’t get into the story.


All of the characters were just…too much. Anna was too jealous and vindictive, Rachel was too pathetic and self destructive, Megan was too stupid, selfish and vapid, Tom was also too selfish, Kamal was too weak-willed, Scott was too controlling. I understand that Rachel was a recovering alcoholic who suffered a probably traumatic break up, but I have a hard time understanding and believing the link between her past trauma and her getting involved in the criminal investigation.


There weren’t a whole lot of surprises in The Girl on the Train. Just like Rachel, I listed the handful of possible outcomes after only reading about 1/3 of the book and it turns out my guesses were correct. Towards the end, there was one moment when I wasn’t sure how Anna was going to react to what was going on between Tom and Rachel (that’s not a spoiler, I promise. In the middle of the book Anna suspects something, but if you keep reading you’ll find out the truth and it’s kind of interesting), but that little bit of intrigue was not enough to save the book.


The Girl on the Train was straight up boring.


The premise was promising (“a commuter sees something through the train window that changes her life forever”) but the thing she sees is not the catalyst for the main action of the novel. Perhaps it was that disconnect that kept me at a distance. Sure, the thing Rachel sees through the window is what pushes her to get involved with the police (therefore involving her in the main action), but seeing as Megan and Scott (who she dubbed “Jess and Jason” before she realized who they were) were random strangers living their lives, what she saw had nothing to do with her. It was none of her business in the first place.


As I read, I kept feeling like something more was going to happen. After a point I realized there would be no shocking plot twists. By then I’d read probably 2/3 of the book and I didn’t have another physical book with me so I decided to finish it anyway. I’d already DNF’ed The Prophet and the Messiah and The Computer, and I was trying to stay on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge so I powered through the remaining 100 or so pages.


It turns out I didn’t need to worry about the reading goal because I found a bunch of graphic novels to read and review. I’m really glad I turned to graphic novels to take a breather from my TBR, because some of the graphic novels were pretty good reads, and all of them took less than an hour to leaf through. The reviews for those books will be coming up soon enough.


I’m not sure what rating to give The Girl on the Train. It gets 3 stars for writing, 1 for plot, 2 for characterization and 4 for setting. That comes to an average of about 2.5 stars, so I’ll round down to two. I seriously cannot recommend this book. It’s just that bad.


If you want to read the book and see for yourself how bad the book is, or if you just want to prove me wrong, you can pick the book up on Amazon, Thriftbooks, and probably your local library.

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