The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: 5 Stars for Psychology, 3 Stars for Thriller

At the end of this post, I will link to my spoilers discussion for those of you who have read the book. Because, let’s face it, this is one that needs some rehashing! 

For those who haven’t read this one yet, there are no spoilers in this post.

Fiction – Mystery / ThrillerThe Girl on the train, paula hawkins
Released January 13, 2015
336 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary

When divorced and down on her luck Rachel sees “something shocking” at the house of “Jess and Jason”, the couple she watches out the window of her daily commuter train, she’s drawn into a mess that “changes everything”. (quotes from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Paula Hawkins’ debut novel has been getting a lot of hype lately…it’s one of those books that I think will be talked about quite a bit both inside and outside of the book world over the coming months. For this reason, I purposely tried to ignore all the chatter and avoid reading reviews until after I’d read the book. I seem to have better luck with these types of books when I go in blind and I’m glad I did in this case. So, this review will be a bit vague to preserve some surprise for those of you who intend to read it!

The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller that, for me, gets 5 stars for the psychological element and 3 stars for the thriller piece…averaging out to a 4-star “I really liked it” rating (on Goodreads, as I don’t use a 5 star rating system for my blog).

This book started a bit slowly for me. It took me about 20% of the book to really engage in the psychological piece and the thriller aspect picked up steam after that. But once I got through the beginning, this was definitely an “I can’t put it down” type of read.

Rachel takes the exact same commuter train every day, passing the same houses at the same time. Therefore, she sees the inhabitants going about their daily routines. She fixates on one young couple who seem happy together (and whose life she probably aspires to have) and names them “Jess and Jason”. She gives them backgrounds, personalities, and careers (She imagines “Jason” as a medical doctor who travels to Third World countries and “Jess” doing something artsy). So, you know right out of the gates that Rachel has at least one issue (borderline obsession with these people she doesn’t know). But, suffice it to say that there are psychological issues all over the place in this book.

My problem with the thriller aspect (and thus the 3 star rating for that part) is that I guessed the outcome well before Hawkins put it out there. I’ll elaborate more on this in the spoilers discussion, but I’ll say here that I kept hoping my guess would be wrong and she would surprise me. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

The Girl on the Train will no doubt be a popular thriller this year and I’m adding it to my Page Turners and Book Club Recommendations lists. It will also make an appearance on my 2015 Summer Reading List coming in May (click here to see last year’s list).

You May Also Like:

Binds That Tie by Kate Moretti
Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian


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  1. Carmen wrote:

    The reviews I’ve read seem to agree with your opinion that people see the ending coming much too soon, so they are not surprised, that said, I still want to read it so I’ll skip your spoiler review until a later time.

    Posted 1.28.15 Reply
  2. Harvee wrote:

    I haven’t read your post as I want to read this book first. Looks quite interesting.

    Posted 1.28.15 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Don’t blame you! And – I definitely recommend avoiding a lot of reviews about this one until you read it (if you plan on reading it).

      Posted 1.29.15 Reply
  3. Great review Sarah. This book is getting a lot of buzz. I am curious to read it now.

    Posted 1.28.15 Reply
  4. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea wrote:

    Like you I enjoyed this but did not love it. I liked trying to to figure out what made the characters tick (especially Rachel) but the thriller aspect was just ok.

    Posted 1.28.15 Reply
  5. Belle Wong wrote:

    This one is on my to-read list, but I also hate it when I can guess the outcome long before the novel’s end …

    Posted 1.29.15 Reply
  6. Joanne wrote:

    I found this to be a bit of a bore, certainly not living up to expectations. Not the worst book I’ve read but for me it was a disappointment. Personally, for this genre, I’d recommend ‘All the Missing Girls’ by Megan Miranda.

    Posted 2.23.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I was a bit underwhelmed as well 🙂

      Posted 3.1.17 Reply
  7. I felt the same way when I listened to the audio version. Good book, but a little too predictable.

    Posted 5.22.17 Reply

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