The Girl on the Train_ Paula Hawkins

2015 Aug. 10  56

picture from The Independent
picture from The Independent

The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins


Life is not a paragraph and death is no parenthesis.

Rachel, divorced and barely sober. She had her train journey twice a day travelling back and forth between suburb area and London. Everyday, she passed by a building, in which lived her ex-husband’s new family and the Hipwell’s. Rachel was a girl who was really into day-dreaming. She imagined the live of the Hipwell’s. Gradually, she developed a kind of connection between herself and the family. However, there was one Sunday morning when she woke up and found herself in a mess with blood stain on her shirt and bruises over her body while she couldn’t recall anything from the previous night. It was also the morning when the news of a missing girl hit the headline. That girl is Megan Hipwell. It’s a story of mystery and secrets.

People have been praising this novel to be the next Gone Girl and the reason for it is quite obvious. They’re both thriller novel telling from unreliable female narrators’ point of view. They’re both mystery waiting for the truth to unfold. And they’re both composed of diary entries. Although there are so many similarities, they are still two novels written by different authors. To me, The Girl on the Train is a lot tamer than Gone Girl is. But the twist of it is even more shocking than Gone Girl’s. The ending of the story is really compelling. I couldn’t put it down when reading the last few chapters. I felt like I needed to know what had happened and what would be coming.

To be honest, I am surprised that I like this book when I finished it. It deals with many serious issues and dark themes which sometimes frustrate me. Depression, marriage, violence and new mom’s change of mindset. These are the things I’ve never experienced before. And that’s why I couldn’t understand the characters. I felt distant. And their ways of thinking and stubbornness annoyed me from time to time.

However, despite my struggle with the characters, I was still eager for the ending. The last one third of the novel is AMAZING! It’s exciting, intense and fascinating. The book may not have the best characters, but it has really strong plot for sure. The only thing I would like to know more about is Dr. Kamal. At some point in the story, he seemed to play an important role. But he just faded out eventually. It would be wonderful if the author spent more time on him. I think he is a really interesting character.

As for the writing of the book. It’s nothing like the previous English novel I read (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe). The Girl on the Train doesn’t have extremely beautiful language. Instead, it is concise and straightforward, which I like. Maybe it’s because of the author’s working experience as a journalist. Her writing is easy to read. The wording is not hard as well. I think that her writing style suits the story perfectly.

Also, I enjoyed the unreliability of the narrators a lot. It narrowed down the gap between readers and protagonists. It’s like the characters were as confused as we did. Getting closer and closer to the truth along with them is fun and real.

Recommend it to anyone who loves Gone Girl, especially those who find it a bit too creepy like I do 😛 It is also a really good reading material for people who want to learn English. And if you think reading in English is too time-consuming, 寂寞出版社 just released the Chinese version. Go check it out. It’s quite good.

p.99 That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete: you mould yourself through the gaps.

p.150 There can be no greater agony, nothing can be more painful than the not knowing, which will never end.

p.167 ‘I understand, although I’m not sure that sounds like a very real kind of happiness,’ he says. ‘Not the sort of happiness that can endure, that can sustain you.’

p.201 I can hear noises from the street below: a police siren, young girls shouting and laughing, bass booming from a passing car. Normal life. But in here, the world is ending.

p.256 And I’ve just got to let myself feel the pain, because if I don’t, if I keep numbing it, it’ll never really go away.



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