“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. 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 mold yourself through the gaps”
If you liked Gone Girl, I have JUST the book for you. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was just as gripping, thrilling, and surprising with an undertone of a Greater Theme that Gone Girl lacked.
Premise: Told from a shifting first person lense, the story mainly chronicles the day-to-day travels of Rachel as she rides the train to and from work in London. She fills the lengthy ride by watching and imagining the houses she passes, one specific home in particular. She calls the couple who lives there Jason and Jess. Rachel has no background on these fictive characters, but comes to feel as if she knows them personally. “Jason and Jess” take on lives of their own until Rachel witnesses something she shouldn’t, and suddenly they’re no longer the perfect couple she envisioned; they are Megan and Scott, and Megan has gone missing.
A story develops a new dimension when told from the perspective of an unreliable narrator; The Girl on the Train develops dozens. Rachel is unreliable in every way a narrator can be: emotionally, medically, and under the influence of substance. She’s grieving the death of her marriage with a man she still loves; she recently lost her job; she suffers from “blackout” moments; and to top it off, Rachel is a raging drunk. The story unfolds for readers in the exact moments it unfolds for Rachel. It’s strong enough to make you feel like you’re actually there.
The shifting points of view range from Rachel, to her ex-husband, to his new wife, and even to the victim herself, “Jess.” Readers see that Rachel isn’t the only unreliable one, because after all, in the midst of a police investigation who really can be trusted? Paula Hawkin did a wonderful job at using each of these characters and their diverse unreliable natures to develop the one major thing I believe Gone Girl lacked… a theme.
The Girl on the Train is all about perception. How you see the outside world looking in. How you see the world around you once you make it to the inside. How you see yourself. How others see us, and the effect that has. How every single one of these things can be distorted beyond your control so much until there exists no single truth. Can there even be a single truth when fact relies so heavily on how you perceive the evidence? I promise after reading this book your head will be spinning with possible answers to all these questions and more.
If you’re not a Big Picture Bloodhound like me, and you simply read to read, The Girl on the Train will be more than enough to satisfy you. It’s a sick, psychological thriller with a twist that will be sure to make your eyes pop out of your head when it hits you. Both thematically and contextually, this story gets and A+ from me.
Don’t let the ties to Gone Girl prevent you from coming in with an open mind. Paula Hawkins has written a book that doesn’t need comparison to such a huge name to make it successful. It’s surely doing that all on its own.