18 April 2015

Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, The Girl on the Train. Probably the biggest publishing story of late, being compared to Gone Girl, on the bestseller list for months now.

Really, I thought it was pretty shrugworthy. On one hand, I can say that because I've read a good deal of books like it (observational mysteries that may or may not result in murder combined with weird psychological flairs), and The Girl on the Train does have a very solid narrative going for it that's easy to keep up with. The mystery tropes are somewhat there, but it's depending a bit on some unreliable narration and the sort of "who do you trust" storytelling that those who read a lot already know.

Where this failed to really grab me and not let go was the characters. At least with Gone Girl, to use the comparative example, the characters gave you a strong feeling - you loved, hated, felt certain ways for specific reasons. The characters in Girl on a Train, to me, felt rather flat and wooden. They exist, and that's basically it. Instead of asking us to invest in them, the story instead seems to be asking for us to invest in the story itself and not those inside of it. It's a strange situation when the book really more needs that sort of emotional investment as opposed to trying to exploit it with shock and naked appeals.

Overall? Okay story, but I really just didn't enjoy reading it at all. I tend to not love books like this, but there are exceptions and I was hoping this would be one of them. Instead, I wanted another Gone Girl or something that would stick with me for a while. I completely understand why this is getting the praise and attention that it is, but I just know I've seen it before and seen it done better.

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