Wednesday, 29 April 2015

VSH Book Club... The Girl on the Train Review

Look away now if you haven't finished the book or want to avoid spoilers!

If I had to sum up this month's book I would say that it is an easy read thriller, enjoyable but not ground breaking. Overall I liked it despite it not setting the world alight; it was well written and engaging, and I can understand why it is currently so popular. Like with last month's book however I wasn't overly enamoured with the characters, and this wasn't a read which I kept thinking about afterwards.  If asked for a score out of 10 I would go for 6 (in a very far reaching and general book category) or 7 (in its genre). Here's why:

The biggest plus point of the book is that it hooks you in immediately. No slow build up here, the reader is introduced to the main character Rachel and all her flaws from the outset, as well as the couple she has become somewhat obsessed with as her daily commute (which we soon learn is contrived) passes the back of their house each day. A few doors down lives Rachel's ex and his new wife and daughter, who add to the intrigue. There is no arguing that the writing leaves you wanting to know more, this is the kind of book that you will stay up late for even when you don't think it's worth it!

The array of characters' secrets adds to the overall success of the book and keeps you fairly on your toes for the majority of the story as to how things will pan out. I say the majority as I suspect many people will have guessed the twist and/or outcome around 3/4 of the way in which is when I did. This didn't ruin the book for me though, as I thought the conclusion of the story was well handled and didn't feel as rushed as some thrillers do. It also made sense and didn't leave me wanting to punch the author in the face like a certain similar title did. Most of the characters (Rachel's housemate aside) had a hint of darkness about them, and the story flowed well from one narrator to another as well as from one timeframe to the next. 

I also thought that having such a flawed main character was a bold move and one which made the book more interesting than many of its counterparts. Obviously towards the end we learn that many of Rachel's shortcomings are the after-effect of an abusive relationship, but for the most part we are dealing with a character whose lonlieness and excessive drinking are described in all their (anti) glory and which appear at times to be self inflicted. I found that I did engage with Rachel and was willing her not to open that bottle of wine at 10am in the morning. Equally I was cringing for her when she wakes to her housemate discovering the pile of vomit at the bottom of the stairs, which I put down to the effective writing and refreshingly realistic descriptions of how bleak living in such circumstances must be. 

On the downside, I found there was some repetition within the story and that it lacked depth. I guess it doesn't set out to be the sort of book that will change your life though so can't complain too much about that! The character of Scott, Megan's husband was an obvious cliche for me, and I found it pretty hard to believe that he and Rachel would have struck up the shortlived friendship that they did without him asking a few more questions about her relationship with Megan. There were also a number of characters introduced but not explored fully enough for me, like Anna and Dr Abdic. 

I am trying to think of other shortcomings of the book given that I only think it is a 6/7 but am actually finding it difficult so maybe I have been a bit harsh! My main issue is simply that it's not a book that will stay with you or effect you emotionally, but for a thriller read which keeps you guessing and makes you want to race to the end (which isn't a difficult task) you can't go too far wrong with The Girl on the Train. 

What did you think folks?! Please share your thoughts! They are probably more insightful than mine!

Come back tomorrow for May's book club choice x 

1 comment:

  1. Good reviewing wife. I found it repetitive and didn't like any of the characters. I sort of didn't enjoy reading it, but did at the same time. I didn't think the ending was that great, personally. I thought it was obvious what was going to happen, a final twist would have been nice.