Genre: I know that they say this is a Thriller, but to me it was more of a Drama.
Synopsis: EVERY DAY THE SAME Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.UNTIL TODAYAnd then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
My Take: I hated this book! Seriously, like unreasonably levels of rage, hated this book. That was my gut reaction, as you can see in this Facebook First Thoughts video I did. I was a little surprised at the level of agitation I had for this book, especially since I managed to read it in just a few days and I haven't done that in a really long time. So I wanted to give my brain some time to process the feelings I was having before I wrote the review. Who knew it would take me over a week!
Besides everything I said in my First Thoughts video, which still fits, I have been able to pinpoint other issues I had which actually bothered me more as an author than as a reader, but I often have a hard time separating those two. I was going to try for this review, but then I realized that my reader side plays a huge influence on my writer side. The two are kind of inseparable. So I won't separate them.
Let's go into the character development and why it made me so angry. Firstly, as a reader I love strong female characters. It is what inspired me to be the woman I am today, and it is what inspires my writing. There is not a strong female character in this entire book. And the book is about three women. That is jut awful! It is incomprehensible. Some who have read it will argue that each female "becomes strong" in the end, but they don't. They are trying, I suppose, in a way, but they don't become strong. They are the example of everything horrible in women, and their "strength" is the other end of the spectrum of what is horrible in women. And that just made me ill. It bothered me that there was so little distinguish between these women. There is something to be argued that this was an intentional stylistic choice as each woman was a duplication and representation of the others. But really, I think it was because of poor editing. No woman is that much like another. Our internal dialogues, our reasoning behind the choices we make, even our interactions with others are not so carbon copy. It was almost reverse Stepford Wifey creepy for me.
This is the author's first book, so I can understand her making that mistake, but for the professional editors of Penquin to miss that? Talk about sloppy. Please tell me I am not the only woman who struggled with this?!
Another issue I had was with the categorization. This was lasted as a thriller. There was a very loose thriller element strung throughout the book in the idea of trying to figure out who the murderer was, but there was soooo much DRAMA that made up the bulk of the book and that drama was all centered around Rachel (the main character) having NO LIFE and needing to insert herself into the murder investigation thereby totally destroying the thriller motif completely. Now, if the book had gone the way I thought it was going, and Rachel had been the murderer, then that would have been a delicious thriller because all this time she was looking for the killer, to find out that she was the one who had done it? That would have been BRILLIANT! But no, it was just more drama in it being Rachel's ex, who we knew from the beginning was a cretin and not above cheating. I was only surprised because it was the most predictable culprit and that an author would have gone with something so tragically cliche was such a huge disappointment. That should have been something caught by her editors. The predictable ending should have been a dead giveaway that this was a drama, a cautionary tale, not a thriller. Instead, they marketed it as a thriller, and really pissed me off. As a drama, it was fine. I don't really care for them, (because of the predictability) but it works for the genre..
Another thing, so many times I had to go back and re-read sections. Sentence clarity was lacking, character development was lacking, and some sentences just didn't make sense! I suppose that the editors wrote it off as "unreliable character" narrative and so it didn't matter. But it does matter. I should not have to stop a book to re-read a section for clarity. (Unless the author is Hawkin. Then, it's just because I am not that smart!) Even if the narrator is unreliable and we shouldn't trust their viewpoint, we should still be able to understand it. We don't have to agree with it, but we should be able to understand it.
All the hype, the crazy fast movie deal, the sub-par story and content just reminds me so much of 50 Shades. Sounds like the movie-version is just about as bad, despite a good cast. Why?
At least 50 Shades had the excuse of being self-published.
Am I so out of touch with the average reader? How did this book become a NY Times Bestseller? Is this why people say that the product doesn't matter, as long as you market it?
What were your thoughts on The Girl on the Train? Do you agree with any of my points? Anything you disagree with? Share in the comments below.
Until next time,