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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, January 2015 - Looking for the next Gone Girl? This fast-paced psychological thriller from Paula Hawkins just might be it. Addictive from the start and told from the perspective of not one but three unreliable narrators, The Girl on the Train delivers engrossing twists and turns in every direction. Rachel, the self-destructive protagonist, is equally sympathetic and appalling, and you can’t help but immerse yourself into her distorted and chaotic world in an attempt to unravel this tightly woven mystery. —Regina, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Audiobook of the Year, 2016

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. 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.

And 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 offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

©2014 Paula Hawkins (P)2014 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Top-notch narration makes this perfect for audio." (AudioFile)

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The Girl on The Train

Any additional comments?

There are literally thousands of reviews of this book on Amazon and Goodreads. So … if you need synopsis of detail, you’ll have no trouble finding. Reviews are from 1 to 5 stars, opinions are varied. <br/><br/>With regard to the audiobook … The Girl on the Train is narrated by several female readers, which is fine … but, they basically sound alike … they all emote a lot. All are British (British author).<br/><br/>All of the characters are so into their own self analyzing angst, including the supposed victim of a crime … it’s maddening. The lead character, Rachael, is a ridiculously self absorbed alcoholic who has memory black-outs, witnesses what she believes is wrong do-ing, and is obsessed with her ex-husband. Convoluted, I know ... just like the story. But, that’s the basics. In my opinion, the story should have been several hours (pages) shorter.<br/><br/>Frankly, the fact that this story is a mega-hit and has hogged the best-seller list for months and months is beyond me, but it’s the reason I finally succumbed. Maybe it’s just clever marketing … but The Girl on the Train has created an amazing, albeit completely puzzling, buzz.<br/><br/>Guess I’m not into drunks. Or, adolescent angst from supposedly mature people. Maybe I’m old. Yeah, that’s it. Must be it. Anyway …. not my cup ‘o tea, ’t all. Not recommended.

555 of 648 people found this review helpful

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I am the only person I know who hated this book…

So, you can take this review with a grain of salt. I don't know exactly why I hated it, but it seems like one of those "Girl" books that you are supposed to love. It's about people who should know better doing stupid things to other people or with other people, and bad things happening as a result. I finished it, but I honestly couldn't wait for to be done. So, I can say that much for it: I have stopped really bad books in the past, and this book was not that bad. In fact, I can see that it was actually very well written. It's just that the story and the characters were too awful to contemplate.

317 of 375 people found this review helpful

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A festival of personality disorders

What would have made The Girl on the Train better?

The one standout criticism I have about this book is that I was not enticed by the author to care enough about the characters to be truly drawn in to the tale. <br/><br/>While I am not one to expect my protagonists to be perfect, nor every story to have a happy ending, none of the characters were genuinely likable at all. It was like a festival of personality disorders, self-centeredness and pathetic weaknesses. <br/><br/>You start out feeling for the main character, sympathetic to her plight and hoping for sobriety to take hold, but it all goes to hell in a hand basket when every single flawed character behaves badly and you, unfortunately, end up caring less and less about them as the book goes on. I finished it out of a sense of duty, not desire. <br/><br/>This is coming from a reader who LOVES Dexter Morgan -but why do I love a serial killer and loathe a struggling British divorcee with a drinking problem? Because, in Dexter's case, the author has seduced me with his back story, his vow to live by his "code", and then throws villains into the mix who are revealed as far worse monsters than Dexter who deserve whatever special treatment he has in store for them.<br/><br/>I make this comparison for the sake of stressing character development and trajectory. I just didn't really feel I was given enough reason to empathize with these people and their loathsome troubles.

173 of 206 people found this review helpful

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  • Ted
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 07-14-16

I Don't Like Any of These People

Relationships are, what I think this book is about.After listening to 26 of its 133 chapters, I couldn't tell you. What I am sure of is that the people in these relationships are reeeeeeely unlikable. Look, I try to give an author plenty of rope, even listening to stinko stories to their end in hopes of retrieving some value for time already invested. But not this one. A question though: why are there three readers? I can't tell them apart, so why three? Did each reader grow bored as me and need replacing from time to time? Which explains why they hired women with identical voices, huh?

Or maybe there was only one reader in the first 26 chapters and others will appear if I just stay on the train? Nope, the car's are too filled with the kind of drooling, mumbling, rumpled creatures with whom you damn well try NOT to make conscious contact.

Perhaps somewhere in chapter 27 or 30 or 60, Paula Hawkins reveals just where this train's going. It was sold as a mystery, maybe even a murder tale. Well, perhaps someone will write a long spoiler in the reviews so I'll know. It was also sold as "fast-paced!" Huh? Turtles pace quicker than Hawkins. Engine grease pours faster.

Okay, the problem's mine. The reviews and sales of "The Girl On the Train" are powerful. I wanted to like it. Didn't happen and shall return it. Yawn...

148 of 180 people found this review helpful

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Could not wait to finish..

....And be done with this story
Very rarely does a hot popular book flop so unconditionally with me, but I literally found absolutely no redeeming value in this book. From sappy boring narration to a painfully cliche' and sophomoric dialogue, I don't even see how "young adults" could find this story interesting.
Don't waste your time or credit!! PASS!

204 of 249 people found this review helpful

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"Rear Window" Meets "Gone Girl"

This book was on my "must listen" list because I actually take the 8AM train into work each day. Like "Rear Window", I can easily imagine looking into the windows and backyards while imagining what kind of life the occupants lead.

Three characters tell this story from their viewpoint. I am so glad that Audible chose three different narrators for Rachel, Anne and Meghan. It made this story much easier to follow when each scene changed. Like "Good Girl" none of these characters are candidates for citizen of the year. In addition, can you rely on their viewpoint? Rachel's life is a drunken shambles, Anne is the "other woman" and Meghan goes missing and we are not sure why.

This is a twisty, well plotted mystery that will keep you riveted and guessing to the very end. Occasionally, I listened to a chapter again and continued to make links with other information I learned. Listen carefully and you will be rewarded. This book will be a huge success. Enjoy!

297 of 378 people found this review helpful

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On Track

From the onslaught of pre-release reviews for this book I was very prepared for the *unreliable narrator,* that tricky little beastie that requires the reader to stay on their toes, but, when our girl Rachel settles onto the train and pops her canned gin and tonic for breakfast, I knew we were in for one helluva ride. In what has been called an *amnesia thriller,* been compared to Hitchcock's Rear Window, and tacked with the ubiquitous "the next Gone Girl" tagline (when will that stop?) author Hawkins gives us one of those always entertaining train-ride thrillers told from the pov of 3 female narrators -- one of whoms story is ala Mary Alice Young in Desperate Housewives, from the grave. Their connection...a man, a neighborhood, and a fateful event.

Not much should be said about the story because it relies heavily on slowly revealing a little more with each clickety-clak of the rails. I'd suggest just settling in and riding along as sad, overweight, unemployed, newly divorced, and barren Rachel rides the train and peers into a certain yard/window of a house that borders the tracks along her journey. Looking out the window of the train at that house, she projects everything she wished for onto a certain willowy blonde she names *Jess,* and her husband. Rachel used to live in the same neighborhood -- now her ex lives in the home with his new wife and baby girl.

Hawkins dishes out the information with a controlling hand, and might rely a little too much on this tactic to keep a sense of tension when more information, fleshing out the characters a little more, could have given the story more psychological depth -- she certainly has created characters with the underpinnings of a great psychological thriller and shows talent as a writer. Maybe I've seen too much Hitchcock, read too many Flynn novels; I didn't find the story really thrilling or mysterious, but that's OK -- it was fun and entertaining, and I flew through it enjoying every minute. I have to say it is a much lighter read than that GG novel (except for the issue of alcoholism, which is especially dark here).

The narrators did a good job keeping the novel moving and interpreting the characters and make this all the more enticing.

325 of 415 people found this review helpful

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Don't Compare, Just Enjoy

Whenever I read, "this is the next best thing" I set the threshold for quality high. Whenever I see, "the next Gone Girl" I set my expectations even higher. This is not fair to us as readers nor both of the authors. If Paula Hawkins' book doesn't blow you away, then her reputation is sullied and if the next book by Gillian Flynn doesn't surpass "Gone Girl" then she's weak. Weighty expectations are unfair and produce resentment all around. Enough of my rant about marketing.

This book is good on it's own merit and the only parallel to "Gone Girl" is the missing girl scenario. What makes this tale different and fun is the unreliable narrator, Rachel; neither blonde, sleek, beautiful nor sophisticated. She's a hot mess, literally stumbling in a drunken stupor from one cringe-worthy situation to the next. The recently sacked redhead squeezes her pudgy bum into the train seat each day riding her old rail line to spy on her old home now shared by her ex and his new pretty wife & baby. Along the way she invents names and stories for different houses and people, crossing the line between make-believe and reality only to lead us on a haphazard goose chase to find out where in the world is Meghan.

Read this quirky, odd, humorous, sad, awkwardly embarrassing, and utterly redeemable new novel.

179 of 230 people found this review helpful

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  • Jerry
  • Stockton, CA
  • 01-28-15

Great Narration, Barely Passable Mystery

Came off of a Gillian Flynn kick, having started with Gone Girl, then Dark Places and finally Sharp Objects. All of which were compulsive listens, the kind where you don't want to quit even though the commute is over. Even Sharp Objects, which was the lesser of the three, had people real enough (damaged, mean, yet somehow sympathetic all the same), and drama that grew organically from the characters and their relationships.

So I was excited, and perhaps expecting a bit too much, when Girl On the Train came up as an Amazon recommendation after checking to see what others had purchased based on the Gillian Flynn books (lots of the reviews touted this as the next Gone Girl).

The only thing it had in common with Gone Girl was the first person narrators and the close narrative distance (and the unlikable characters -- though Fylnn's characters, despite being unlikable are sympathetic and honest enough to identify with).

Differences were many. All the characters in Gone Girl were honest and true (to their motivations anyway). The characters in The Girl On the Train weren't true to anything. They didn't even know what they wanted. They were all clueless, wandering, adulterating, unlikable people.

The mystery was a non-mystery. The missing girl is one of our first person narrators, expounding about what happened half a step behind the 'sleuths' trying to figure it out. And if she'd been honest with the audience, meaning had she thought out loud (first person narrative) all the truth, we'd have suspected the actual perpetrator in the first third (at least) of the book and this thing wouldn't have had the feet to move passed 100 pages. Instead the author hid behind the assumed honesty that comes with a first person narrative, and the big 'twist' came in the end when we learn that two of the main characters knew that there was another person who was the most likely of suspects.

The cops are minor characters in this one, beat out by an armchair detective who is a blackout drunk; unemployed but so insecure as to take the train everyday so her flat-mate doesn't suspect she's unemployed and can't make rent (never mind that commuting each day, and drinking in London -- which is what she does most days -- would cost probably as much, or more, than her rent does). But she one-ups the coppers time and again.

All the characters, and their motivations (non-motivations) are pretty much forced; meaning this thing bends characters to a desired, poorly planned plot.

The thing this novel didn't achieve (for me anyway), that Gone Girl did was a reason to care. I never did care about any of the characters. Rachel was sympathetic in the beginning but she lost credibility pretty quickly, and not for simply being a down and out drunk, but because she was so totally lost, with no conviction whatsoever. It made riding first person with her difficult. Self-doubt is an inherent human condition which everyone experiences at one time or another, and so it's a true way to the readers heart (if it's honest). Rachel has an overabundance of self-doubt, but she also experiences (at least as many) episodes of self confidence when there should be no confidence at all. She becomes tiring in her unreality very quickly.

It started out promising, but went downhill pretty quickly. I'd have given up on this one in the first two hours if it weren't for all the glowing reviews. I stuck it out, and I was disappointed. I think if I'd listened to this without any expectations I'd have been more forgiving.

The ending was was insanely preposterous. SPOILER ALERT: Two ex-wives sitting around with a murderer as he scooby-doos his confession and motivation (which was heretofore missing) while drinking tea. Huh?!?!

On a plus side, the narrators were great, especially Louise Brealey who, with her ability, gave the character more character than was actually written there.

The idea was grand, and tantalizing, but this novel didn't deliver.

227 of 294 people found this review helpful

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Wish I had missed this Train

I am in the minority not liking this book. I felt like I slogged thru every word. There was no sense of suspense, the women were all needy, brainless, self indulgent dimwits. I didn't like a single person, nothing to admire or relate to, unless you commit adultery or are a drunk.
Wasted credit - more important: I squandered time I can never recover.

460 of 601 people found this review helpful