If you’re still looking for the next great novel after Gone Girl, I’ve got a strong candidate for you.
Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train has gotten a lot of buzz (yes, I used this word intentionally–if you’ve read the book you’ll get it) this year, and after finishing it, I can see why.
GOTT is full of suspense and it’s mysterious. You want to know what happens and how it ends. And you don’t know until literally the last few pages.
Here’s my summary/review (SPOILERS AHEAD):
This book does take a while to get into, mainly because there isn’t a strong character for which you can root. Rachel, the main narrator, hasn’t met a bad decision she won’t make.
While Rachel is fake riding the train to the job she was fired from, she imagines the life of a couple she sees from the train. A couple that lives near her ex and his new wife and baby. All is well, until she witnesses an affair and the woman in her fantasy couple goes missing.
Rachel inserts herself far too deeply into the mystery. While Rachel is trying to figure out what she did or didn’t bear witness to, the police are trying to solve a murder.
There are points in the novel, especially early on, where you want to reach through the binding of the book, grab Rachel and literally shake some common sense into her. (While the same could be said of all three rotating narrators to some degree, I felt this urge the strongest toward Rachel.)
Rotating through three females as the narrators, Hawkins’ novel has drawn comparisons to Gone Girl. The similarities are fairly obvious. The main difference that I saw is there isn’t a character you can respect or root for.
In Gone Girl, you could respect Amy Dunne’s intelligence and root for Nick to make things right and figure out what Amy has against him. Rachel isn’t that way at all. She’s the anti-hero hero. Megan and Anna don’t have a singular redeeming quality to make you entirely forgive their indiscretions either.
That being said, I still became really invested in the plot. I wanted to know how all the characters fit together into the puzzle and I wanted to see what the end product looked like.
I really enjoyed this book and I was surprised by the ending (even if I figured it out to a small degree with about 20 pages left).
I have one suggestion if this book is made into a movie (it has been optioned). During the final scene, when two of the characters are entering a police station, Carrie Underwood’s song “Two Black Cadillacs” should be playing. Again, if you’ve read the book, you’ll understand. (If you haven’t heard the song, listen to it and you’ll get what I mean…)
I would strongly recommend this book. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. I would have given it 5, however, I gave Gone Girl a 5. I liked this book slightly less, so I would say I would rank it in the 4.5 star range.