Publication date: 15 January 2015
Length: 384 pages
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
You don’t know her. But she knows you.
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
With its intriguing premise and Transworld’s reputation for publishing some of the best thrillers I’ve ever read, The Girl on the Train was one of my most anticipated novels of 2015 – and it completely blew me away. Hawkins’s debut took the blogosphere by storm and it has every right to be at the top of the charts. It’s so brilliantly written, so unpredictable and so full of twists and turns that I read the second half in one sitting and would willingly give it 6 stars if I could.
One of the (many) reasons why it stood out for me is its narration. Rachel, our main character and narrator, is alcoholic. She’s had drinking problems for quite a while and she even lost her job because of it. And why it’s interesting, as far as the story is concerned, is because she’s unreliable. She often drinks herself to a state where she completely blacks out and has no memory of what she’s done when she wakes up the next morning. Add this to a story where she is the only witness and you’ll have no idea what to believe.
All the characters are brilliantly – and very cleverly – written, in a way that makes it impossible for you to know who to trust or who to believe. Not just Rachel, but everyone has their own version of events and they are all acting suspiciously in one way or another. I love books with unreliable narrators and The Girl on the Train was no exception.
And, before I go on, I must add this: I loved Rachel. All the reviews I’ve seen so far said they hated her character and couldn’t sympathise with her at all. I was the exact opposite – I couldn’t stand the others but loved Rachel. I wasn’t sure what to think or expect when I started reading the book (the ‘giving names to people you see on your daily commute and feeling as if you know their lives’ thing was weird in the beginning) but I warmed to her pretty soon. I really felt for her when she was trying to remember what happened to her on the night of the murder and no matter how hard she tried or how frustrated she got, all she could recall was a few vague details.
It’s quite difficult to talk about the crime itself without giving anything away – and I don’t want to spoil it for you, because you all NEED to read it – so all I’ll say is, the ending was fantastic. I literally couldn’t put it down until I reached the end because I wanted to know who did it, I wanted answers.
And oh, what a twist, what a heart-pounding finish. If it was a movie, I would’ve been hiding behind a cushion at this point. I won’t say that I didn’t see it coming (it did cross my mind at some point and I had a feeling there might be two sides to this particular story) but the revelation and the sudden turn of events completely took me by surprise. It was the perfect ending to such a twisted and haunting story, and I know I won’t forget it anytime soon.
The Girl on the Train is one of the most explosive thrillers of the year, and an absolute must-read for everyone. Dark, suspenseful and frighteningly realistic, Hawkins’s debut will stay with me for a very long time.