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The Girl on the Train: A Novel

The Girl on the Train: A Novel - Paula Hawkins This book is definitely a page turner. It's fast-paced and unsettling, but is it worthy of all the hype? Is it really Hitchcockian? Mmm...that's a pretty high bar. Putting Hawkins on par with the Master of Suspense might be overkill. I know people are going bananas for it, and I can see why, but I'm not left with the urge to push it on my friends and say, "You gotta read this!" It's engaging, I'm glad I read it, and I'm sure it'll make a good movie (which you know is gonna happen).

Unsurprisingly, it's being compared to Gone Girl. A beautiful young woman disappears from her seemingly perfect life, the story is delivered through alternating viewpoints (which are ordered asynchronously), the characters are all wildly unreliable, and Hawkins doles out key information in a very piecemeal fashion. Great - a recipe for success.

Except...it's just not done quite as well. To varying degrees, the characters lack a certain depth and believability. I believed Rachel's character, she felt frustratingly real to me, but others - like the detectives - were pretty flat. It didn't quite reach the point of being a character study because, aside from maybe Rachel, we didn't really get into any of their heads. It lacks perspective entirely from a few key players. The creep factor was high at points, but I was never chilled to the bone as I was reading certain passages in Gone Girl.

I might have given it four stars, but there was one little detail at the end, a crucial one that I won't spoil here, that knocked it down a peg. Were this more pulpy throughout, I would've loved it. But it's not pulp, so it was just cheesy and totally took me out of the moment - one of those things her editor should have read and gone, "Yeah, I get it. I get what you're doing...but it's a little much."

All in all, would I recommend it? Sure. It's a good concept and it'll draw you in. You might guess the ending before you get there, but the process of getting there is still fun.