Simply put, this was a fantastic read from debut author Paula Hawkins. Unreliable narrators, twists and a fast pace guaranteed that.
This story is, at the beginning, about Rachel who takes the same train every morning. As she continues down the track, she passes the same stretch of houses each day and as the train slows, she watches a couple going about their daily lives. She’s began to feel as if she knows them and has even created fictional names and scenarios for them. Then one day, watching them from her seat on the train as usual, she see’s something that shocks her and changes everything. Unable to keep it to herself, she tells the police and becomes entwined in what follows and the lives of those involved. It’s impossible to tell you anymore without giving something away and this is a book it’s best to know as little as you can about before reading.
Inevitably, there have been numerous comparisons to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It feels like nearly every thriller with an unreliable narrator is! Like Gone Girl, I rushed through this book and clique or not, was hardly able to set it down, which hardly ever happens. For me though, that’s where the comparison ended. Gone Girl felt much more convoluted, so I really appreciated the straightforwardness of this.
This book gets going almost immediately and doesn’t take long to pull you in. It’s narrated by three woman- Rachel, who narrates for the most part and also two other woman, Megan and Anna. Each narrative is written in the first-person, with Rachel’s part being in the present day, as is Anna’s. Megan’s part is a few months in the past. The use of present tense was a great choice here and gave it a real sense of emergency.
The characters were done fantastically and I seem to be in the minority here when I say that I really liked Rachel. Going by reviews I’ve read subsequently, most people felt frustrated with Rachel because of her reliance on alcohol and self-pitying attitude. Mostly, people wanted to give her a good shake. I, however, felt sorry for Rachel and really felt for her. I’ve had experience with a lot of the issues that Rachel raised and so I felt a huge sense of empathy towards her. I thought she was an excellent protagonist and liked her from the start. I actually feel a little angry and disappointed that hardly anyone felt like I did about her. The important thing is though, that love her or hate her, you’ll still likely think this book is great. Saying that, I didn’t particularly like Anna, who narrated a smaller portion of the book and I questioned a turn of her character towards the end. Megan was fine, but felt a little flat at times in consideration of the others. She does however come into her own at one point when she recounts a tragic past happening.
Aside from this, the plot was fantastic and peppered with twists and turns. I did, however, feel slightly deflated at the end because I’d guessed the perpetrator. Soon enough I didn’t care though, because I was caught up in the narrative again.
Ever since reading this I’ve been thinking about it loads and wishing I could read it for the first time again! Read it as soon as you can and I reckon you’ll love it as much as I did.