The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: Book Review

Title: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Genre: Mystery, Psychological thriller

No place can be better than a train journey to read this book, or so I thought to myself as I looked forward to a fast paced thriller hurtling to its conclusion, holding me in suspense and terror.

Hugely popular, a cult following and a movie adaptation: nothing could go wrong for this book but it did and I struggled through the journal style narrative of messed up characters.


Rachel is the girl who travels to London everyday for work. She has a pet pleasure, of watching people and houses on a particularly slow stretch of the tracks. It is not a very innocent pastime and things start turning for the worse when a woman living in one of the houses disappears. Suddenly, the facade of normalcy fades away and all the characters find themselves tied with each other through horrific associations.

The narrative is through the point of view of three women; it runs like thoughts in our heads, repetitive, on a loop. The chapters are like writing in a personal journal. Sure, it is a whodunit and the mystery is built up rather well. The peeling away of the layers is good and there is a sense of closure at the end of the book.

What works well

This is a bestseller in its category and it has caught the imagination of millions. The suspense is good and the telling of the story a little unconventional so that it helps hold interest till the end.

What does not work so well

I did not enjoy the language and the writing at all. There is plenty of self talk and overthinking by the characters. The characters themselves are a messed up bunch and though the characters develop as the story goes on, they stay largely negative.

The story is a peekaboo that borders so much on voyeurism that it took me much time and courage to finish it.


A tangled web of lies and deceit. Go for it if alcoholism, adultery and psychological manipulation is the mix that gets you excited.

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