The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This is a dumb book about dumb people.

I know there’s been a ton of buzz about this book, and it’s on everyone’s reading lists, but if you do pick it up, I have one piece of advice for you:

Rachel is a lonely, divorced, blackout drunk who takes the train into London every day. Her commute takes her past the house she used to live in with her husband, who now lives there with the woman he left her for and their young child. Rachel mostly focuses her attention on a couple that lives nearby. She nicknames them Jason and Jess, and to her they represent the perfect relationship she used to think she had with her husband. One day, she sees the woman kiss a man who isn’t her husband, and she’s shocked and furious. Think “One Hour Photo” but without anything exciting actually happening.

One Hour Photo Movie Poster

Soon after the kiss, the woman vanishes. Rachel decides to worm her way into the husband’s life. As much as she tries to convince us that it’s because she knows something, it’s mostly because she’s lonely and craves attention. She can barely contain her glee when she’s telling the cops she knows something they don’t.  Meanwhile, she’s pissing of her ex and his wife with her drunken shenanigans. But could they…gasp…know something about the missing woman??

This is another book that gets repeatedly compared to Gone Girl. I didn’t even know how much I liked Gone Girl until I read the shitty books that get compared to it (see also, my Luckiest Girl Alive review). Just because a book centers on a crappy marriage, told by an unreliable narrator, doesn’t make it a good book.

Every woman in this book is a disaster, and every man is a monster (with the possible exception of the random redheaded dude. WHY WERE YOU EVEN IN THE BOOK?). But considering we have to deal mostly with Rachel’s narration (we also spend time with the missing woman and the new wife) she gets the brunt of my ire. Like I said, she’s a blackout drunk, which could be a compelling narrative device, but isn’t. As a reader it’s frustrating, because I knew if she could pull her shit together for more than a day, she could solve this stupid mystery. She gets close, she talks to some gin about her feelings, and then WHOOPS the facts fly out of her head again. But don’t worry, she’s bound to eventually remember some tiny detail that proves to be hugely significant.

And let’s talk about the twist about the missing woman. I spent the whole book thinking to myself “It can’t be that, that’s way too obvious. How can this book be popular if that’s whodunit?” Well, I was right. Most of the time, guessing the end of a mystery is fun. This time it was more like

In case you couldn’t tell, I was not a fan of this book. I’d urge you to skip it and watch “Rear Window” instead. This book, like all of its female characters, was a hot mess.

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