Published by: Riverhead Books
Genre: Contemporary /Crime Mystery
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?
The Girl on the Train has been hailed as the new Gone Girl and copies of have been flying off the shelves, making it an author's (and publisher's) dream. But is it a good read?
The novel does mirror the plot of GG. Both have been described as psychological
thrillers - although I disagree. I accept that they both follow the whodunnit crime mystery route, but with the subject of male/female relationships at the core. TGOTT has a "chick-lit" like quality about it (a genre that predominantly focuses on the subject of marriage and motherhood in women in their early 30s, and explores their fear/anxiety at not achieving either by that age)*. For the main character, Rachel, her inability to become pregnant and the subsequent failure of her marriage sinks her into the depths of despair.
The reason the term "whodunnit" exists is because the whole point of the genre is to enjoy the challenge of working it out as the plot unfolds. In this sense TGOTT is fundamentally flawed. I was
ahead of the narrator since I worked out whodunnit before the crime was
even revealed! (Basically the one you'd supposedly least expect.) The
fact that every other main character is developed except that one (until
nearing the ending) is a bit of a giveaway. I found the story far too contrived and with
characters too unrealistic to be plausible. It also lacks the
originality and sophistication of GG.
For me this novel reads like fan fiction. It is as though a train commuter, who habitually reads novels on her journey, decided to give chick-lit a rest and give Gone Girl a try. She loved it so much she became fanatical about it and started fantasising about being a part of it; the result of which is this novel. Rachel, is a train commuter who finds herself trapped in the middle of a "Gone Girl" plot of the author's imagination (poor dear).
This book may be riding on the coat tails of the success of GG, but it is a poorly executed imitation. It was voted Goodreads best mystery novel of 2015. Call me fussy but I set my standards higher than this.
My advice would be to side step it and read (or re-read) GG instead.
* This distinction is why I consider "Chick lit" to be a sub-category of "Contemporary fiction for women" (the latter covering a much broader range of themes/issues that interest women).