The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins book review
My rating for The Girl on the Train is: ♥♥
Rating system (pretty standard):
5 hearts= Great (I really adore this story)
4 hearts=Good (So Good my cheap @$$ went out and bought it)
3 hearts=Fair (to make this one clear, I'll say: the book isn't that bad, but it's not good either)
2 hearts=Bad (Think twice before buying it, and even harder before actually reading it)
1 heart= I finished it, but that's about it
I didn't bother to finish it…it was that bad.
(WARNING! THIS REVIEW IS VERY LONG! It's damn near short story length to be honest.)
Prepare yourself for a trip down someone else's deep dark mental abyss…
I usually stay away from mysteries. I don't normally like them. Formulated whodunits typically revolve around a plot where the reader is most enthralled with trying to figure out who committed the big crime in the novel. Personally, I like novels that focus more on character development, an engaging plot that doesn't have a particular setup wherein to follow along, and a "personality" all its own. With that said, I always feel as if reading formulated books are the equivalent of reading the same stories over and over again. I have read my share (not a lot, but definitely enough in my opinion) in the past and they became too predictable. And even if they weren't necessarily predictable every step of the way, I can tell when someone is writing with a precise base outline that they use for ALL of their stories containing only a smidgen of actual imagination. They change up character names, locations, and perhaps the occupations of the characters, but most of the story tends to stay the same. Romance and mystery/thrillers usually top the list of formulated novels, and they rarely veer off course into fresh territory that would entrance readers in all walks of life. Even though I knew that the novel, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, was a mystery, it was getting such rave reviews, I decided to check it out to see what the fuss was all about.
Why do people lie so much when it comes to literature in the 21st Century? I'm being serious. Why do they go overboard, acting as if a particular novel is the most amazing story they've read in the past twenty years and it's nothing short of a run-of-the-mill tale that if the "right" people hadn't gotten their hands on it, the average fan of mystery novels would have read it, shrugged, and put it down?
Before we go any further with this review, I want you to know that my opinions have a tendency to piss people off. Beware. Also, there is profanity in this review. If cursing burns your eyes and greatly offends you, stop reading now. You have been warned.
Let me start off by saying that if I knew the author was a thirty-to-fortysomething British female, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. Do I have a problem with British authors as a whole? No. Do I have a problem with modern-day female British authors? I shouldn't lie about that—yeah, I kind of do. I just want to add that I haven't read a LOT of books by modern-day British females, but the majority I've picked out, I've had issues with that I'll explain them later in this review. Even if you don't agree with me, perhaps you'll understand where I'm coming from. From Sophia Kinsella to Helen Fielding and E.L. James, a literary siege of feminine patheticism (that's my word people) was shipped in by English females and received with open arms by Americans. And I thought "Ally McBeal" was bad in the 90s…
The Girl on the Train is narrated, for the most part, by the main character, Rachel. To make a long story short in my description of Rachel, she is an out-of-work alcoholic pining over a husband that cheated on her and has moved on with his life with another woman. You would think that with a character like this, she'd be easy to bestow sympathy upon, but nope, you'll mostly tire of her catastrophically morose self-destructive attitude after only a few pages. Honestly, I didn't care anything for this character until that last 28 pages of the book; mind you, this book is 323 pages in length, so that should tell you something.
The second largest portion of narration goes to the character Megan. She's just as catastrophically morose and self-destructive as Rachel, but to top it off, she's married, and therefore she's dragging someone else down her rabbit hole of despair. I may not have a ton of love for Rachel, but Megan was so much worse because she was an absolute brat, and on top of being a brat, she was an asshole. You would think that her being an adult brat would put her in the same category as being an asshole automatically, but those descriptions belong separately in her case—take my word for it.
And the third narration portion—as well as the shortest, thank goodness for small mercies—belongs to Anna. I was pondering a way to describe Anna in this review, and the only thing I can really come up with to describe such a cold spiteful man-stealing whore is…a vile cold-hearted spiteful man-stealing whore to be more accurate.
Ta-da! Those are your three main female characters that will dominate your pleasure reading time! Isn't that absolutely fabulous? Won't you think you'll enjoy hearing what they have to say? Do you think you'd care if any of those bitches died during the course of, say, the first 100 pages? Probably not…but we'll get to that in a few paragraphs.
I do feel a little bad ragging on Rachel since during the last few pages of the book, I managed to like her, but I refuse to let that hinder me as I type.
Fair warning: I will do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but there will be a few spoilers, though I won't give too many specifics. Another thing is, I'm not going to blurt out the ending in this review. A lot of people love to spoil the entire reading experience for others who still might want to check certain books out, and unless I think the book is a real stinker, I don't do that.
What's the worst part of this book? For me, the worst part is realizing that Paula Hawkins is a really good writer. In fact, she's damn near close to an AMAZING storyteller, which is what kept me reading long after I got sick of all the characters and their miserable self-pitying circumstances. That's how good of a writer I think she is, although I didn't like this story very much. The book has a very easy, elegant flow to it. If you're a fast reader, it won't take you more than a day or two (at the most, three days, if you're busy doing a number of things) to get through these 300+ pages. She definitely has a way with words that I admire. On the other hand, I hate her a little for keeping me hooked into reading this entire book. If anyone else had written this story, I would have put it down after the first ten pages—no other writer could have kept me reading along the way she did.
But let's get back to the plot, shall we?
Rachel is a daily commuter on the train that takes her through the area where she used to live with her ex-husband who is now married to the woman in which he cheated on her with, and with whom he has a child. On these daily commutes, Rachel pops cans of gin and tonics, and when the train takes her by a particular couple's home that live within the vicinity of her ex and his new wife, she's even taken it upon herself to conjure fantasies involving said couple. To top it off, she's given the mystery wife and husband names of her own crafting—Jess and Jason. "Jess" and "Jason" moved into the neighborhood after Rachel and her ex-husband, Tom, divorced, which is why she doesn't know their real names. In the fantasies she has, Rachel imagines that they (meaning the fictional couple, Jess and Josh that she has created in her head) are the perfect loving couple.
I tried to understand Rachel's way of thinking, since that character and I are meant to be around the same age, and I simply couldn't do it. I'm thirty-three years old, and even though I can't recall if Rachel's exact age was mentioned in the novel, my assumption is that she is somewhere in her late twenties or early thirties; and the only conclusion I could come up with based on her assumption of the couple "Jess and Jason" is she lacks an extraordinary amount of common sense. By age twenty-eight, every woman and man should KNOW that there is no such thing as a "perfect" relationship regardless of what a couple presents on the outside for the world to see. I don't care how well you think you know a couple, the truth is, you really don't. And I can already see some of you shaking your heads and going, "Well, you're the one that lacks common sense because you're talking about a book, and that couple isn't real and neither is the main character." The thing is, I do realize the characters aren't real and neither is their situation, but people feed into that fantasy of believing that everybody else—other individuals as well as couples—have much better lives than they do all the time in reality, and it just isn't true. Everybody has problems and secrets no matter how they look, how much money they have, or how much they smile in public. That's just one of the things that made me do an eye roll when I read the sort of mentality this woman had.
Of course, the couple doesn't have a perfect life, and since they're mentioned in the book's description on the jacket, undoubtedly, as you read, you'll find out just how imperfect they truly are.
It's time I stopped being polite about Rachel's state; she's a fucking mess throughout most of the novel. I mean a sloppy repugnant mess. She is what every woman fears becoming. In fact, she's such a mess, that most fifteen-year-old girls (at least, the average fifteen year old American girl) probably won't know to fear becoming someone like Rachel because she simply can't fathom being that pathetic. It's not about her being overweight, although what British people seem to rate as "fat" is our version is normal, but it's about the fact that this character actually gets pissy drunk, vomits in the hallway, and then passes out in her bedroom without cleaning the mess up. Then her flatmate comes home to find the mess, and she's as equally disgusted as the reader. Rachel is not only an alcoholic, but at one point she sits outside on a bench, gets drunk, nods off, and wakes up covered with ants, which gets her laughed at by a couple of kids who'd been playing nearby. Oh, it gets worse. You read the part about her being unemployed, right? Well, she hasn't actually told her flatmate she lost her job in fear of being kicked out. So what does Rachel do? Leave every morning, pretending to go to work, semi-stalking a couple she doesn't know as she part-time stalks her ex-husband and his current wife, spending whatever savings she has on pointless train voyages, and basically tottering around the city, only to return home (drunk) with less money in her pocket because she can't face her life. There's more to Rachel's sad state of mind, but as far as a review goes, isn't what I've mentioned enough?
If you don't know anything about London, you need to understand this: our version of a drunk is different from their version. Any English person that I know that has visited America, and tasted the beer over here said it was so weak they may as well have been sipping piss. It's not unusual to walk around LDN and for every other person you meet to be shitfaced (mostly at night, although during the day you'll find quite a few). There's a show called Being Human, and originally it was a British television program. There was a part on one episode (or perhaps more than one) of the British version where they showed a middle-aged mom drinking at her dining room table in the middle of the day and casually passing out. Her kid didn't think anything of it. When I asked one of my (English) friends about it, he just went, "That's not uncommon or weird over here." Their version of normal drinking is our version of, "Somebody needs to call an intervention 'cause it's just out of hand at this point." If people were arrested for public intoxication over there, their jails would be overrun daily, which made it a little funny (in an awkward way) that Rachel's flatmate was encouraging her to go to an AA meeting. I was thinking, "She'd have to be a little worse off than she is at this point for her to go to AA init?" ("Init" is an English thing—slang, by the way, I just thought I'd throw that in there.)
I suppose it's time to expound on the character of Megan at this point, though I truly don't want to. I hated her. I didn't even attempt to think of any redeeming qualities about this character because there aren't any. She's described as a petite blonde with blue eyes, so to a lot of other people, those physical attributes automatically puts her in the category of being beautiful (I didn't say me, I said a lot of other people), but I don't care if she was supposed to be pretty, her soul was dog shit in my opinion, and that made her fugly. She was a poor excuse for a woman, let alone a wife or anything else. I don't care what happened in her past; it absolutely did not make up for her behavior, and no one can change my mind about that.
And then there's Anna. *Sighs deeply* She's scum for the most part, but since she's happy about being that way, I guess you can't be that mad at her.
In the story, Anna is beside herself with irritation that Rachel just won't leave her and her husband—along with their baby—alone. I mean, Rachel was his wife first, but by all means, Anna can't understand why, if she properly stole Rachel's husband and moved into the house Rachel once inhabited, can't RACHEL SIMPLY PRETEND SHE NEVER EXISTED AND DISAPPEAR?! That's exactly the way Anna thinks.
While I don't agree with Anna's attitude or actions in the least, I do understand someone thinking, "Okay, he's not yours anymore chick. Move on with your life. If someone rejected me, I wouldn't make myself come across as more pathetic than I probably already seem." Rachel is downright annoying. She calls her ex's house nonstop, she actually drops by unannounced and (obviously) unwanted, and to top it off, she sends emails. Mind you, she and this man haven't been together for over a year. I was thinking, "Don't you have any respect for yourself at all?" I can admit that I've been down that road before; not to the extent that Rachel went, but I've suffered a little patheticitis myself. Unfortunately, men do have that power over some of us straight women, but thankfully, most of us are able to come to our senses before it's too late and we do something (too) idiotic. The bottom line is, you have to move on. A year? A fucking year? Are you kidding me? Get a side project! It was 2013 when this (fictional tale) was going on, not 1903—get a friggin' hobby that makes you happy woman! That's the beauty of this day and age; there's too much for a person to get involved in to claim boredom or stagnation. I realize that so many of us (myself included) fall into fits of depression and we wallow in what we've lost and we let our sadness get the better of us at times, but I'm grateful that most of us have the gumption to pull ourselves out of it, especially if what we're wallowing over isn't worth it. Rachel's ex definitely wasn't worth her letting herself go altogether, becoming a drunk, practically homeless, and jobless. Here's some advice Rachel (and people like her): instead of picking up a can of gin and tonic, pick up a can of Red Bull and read something; stimulate your brain cells instead of killing them for a change. And yes, I take my own advice; it's good advice, if I do say so myself.
The other thing is, and I'm not exactly sure if this would be considered a major spoiler or not (it doesn't solve the crime in the story in the least if that's what you're thinking), but Rachel found out she was barren. That term seems so archaic to me. I'm sorry, but I'm sort of like Charlotte York on Sex and the City; I prefer terms like "reproductively challenged", "unable to have children", or if it comes to this…"infertile". I realize that barren and infertile are synonyms, but when I think of something as being "barren", I think of a desert and cactus and sun scorched sand. A human being is not a desert.
I nearly put the book down on page 79 when the character Rachel says, "…let's be honest; women are still only really valued for two things—their looks and their role as mothers. I'm not beautiful, and I can't have kids, so what does that make me? Worthless."
After reading that, I was livid. I'm serious. For a woman to say that—fictional character or not—is absolutely heinous. For ANYONE to characterize a woman's worth in two categories—beauty and the ability to have a child or children—is one of the most demeaning, depressing, and perplexing things. You're basically saying that the ONLY value of a woman is her face and her uterus; so if you're not pretty and you don't have a baby you may as well kill yourself. ARE YOU FUCKING JOKING???!!! Look at how many women have accomplished things on this planet and they were not the prettiest people on earth—far from it. Look at the number of women that have done extraordinary things, paved the way for others, made other people's lives better, and they didn't have children themselves. Women are more than just faces and bodies to either be admired or to push out other human beings. You know what—and I'm not just saying this just to say it—but I'd rather have my addled crazy brain and be the person that I am, flaws and all, than be a supermodel. Trust me, it takes years to think the way that I do, and I'm thankful that I actually do have the mind that I have. A few supermodels who are considered some of the most beautiful women on the planet have kids and are unbelievably rich, yet when I read interviews that someone has done with them and they sound borderline mentally challenged, nothing they have sparks envy in me. I don't care if you don't believe me. There are so many people who are photographed daily, in gossip mags, have great looking boyfriends and husbands, and have a ton of money, and I don't understand why people are so jealous of them. If anything, those kind of people (you know, stupid people) should be your motivation to do better in life and make the best of what you have, not incite the desire to want to be them. It took me a long way to get to where I am mentally and emotionally, which is why the character in this novel frustrated me so much. I can't imagine a woman my age making the mistakes right now that I made a decade ago! These characters were so wretched they actually made me appreciate the misfortunes I've had in my life.
I'm warning you, this particular paragraph that I'm about to type is personal, so you can skip it if you want. When I was seventeen years old, I was taken to the ER because I was in excruciating pain. To this day, I'm not sure of exactly what was going on with my body, but after running a few tests on me and sending me home with some pain meds, and having additional tests done over the following few days, I was subsequently told that I probably wouldn't be able to have children. I was (marginally) sad for all of five minutes (probably less time than that). Maybe I wasn't too dismayed because I'd been taking care of kids since I was around eight years old and by the time I was seventeen, I was already raising two boys that weren't even mine (about a year later, I got another kid to take care of that I didn't give birth to, but at least that one was a little girl). To any women out there who may have found out that you can't have kids and you read the nonsense in this bullshit novel, you're not merely worth something that your body can't control. I also realize that you probably didn't need me to tell you that. At the age of twenty and then at around twenty-three, two different doctors told me that if I ever tried to get pregnant, I would most likely need some sort of medical intervention in order to conceive. I'd had years to get used to the fact that I probably can't have kids by then, and I just waved them off like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah…but is everything else all right with my body? There's no cancer or no shit like that, right?" (Don't worry, I don't actually talk to my doctors that way, haha.) The thing is, I've never actually tried to get pregnant. I know if some women heard the news that they possibly couldn't have kids that they would probably end up having unprotected sex. Not me. It wasn't just about being safe from the infections and viruses floating around out there, but it's the thought that even if there was a 3% chance of me getting pregnant, I didn't want to take it. Raising kids is not fun and it's definitely not easy, I know that first hand. I can think of hundreds of worse things that can happen to me other than never giving birth, which is probably why the thought of not being able to have kids has never depressed me in the slightest. With all that said, I can sympathize with women when they're told they can't have a baby and they desperately want one, but I can't imagine giving up on life and thinking you're a worthless piece of human trash because you can't get pregnant. Another thing that character said was that aside from being "barren", she didn't have a glittering career that made her feel good about herself. IT'S YOUR JOB TO MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY!! It's not your career's job or a man's job, or even your pet kitty's job to make you happy; find things that make you happy, and when you finally find a few, find more. That's the way this world works. I've had a few encounters with British females and I will tell you firsthand, if you think they're all fabulous, glamorous, and superior, think again. More than once when I've had conversations with them, they've said things to me to insinuate that they think I'm stupid just because I'm American or they tried to make me feel stupid. It was actually very childish and petty the way they came across. It's sort of like the bully on the playground that gets kicked around at home and verbally abused by every adult they know, but when they get around kids their age they put on an act of superiority and want to beat their peers down because it makes them feel better about themselves. That's how the women I've had contact with (from across the pond) behaved. Sometimes they do have a point; most Americans are terrible with geography (LOL) and maybe a few other things, but there are many other things that are normal to us, yet they try to make us feel bad about it as if they know sooo much more about the world than we do because they're European. Please. Guess what I think! I think that if the majority of British women act like the women in this novel and Bridget Jones's Diary or they're as immature and slow as Anastasia Steele, I think we could actually conduct a few self-esteem courses others could learn from. And don't fool yourselves. Fifty Shades was basically a British novel set in the state of Washington of E.L. James's imagination. Everything those characters did, all of their personalities, etc…were British. When shit goes wrong over here, we do not offer to put the kettle on for tea thinking that will make everything all better. The majority of men over here either watch American football, basketball, baseball, or golf; I don't know (personally) one American man who is bonkers over European football (otherwise known here as soccer) unless the Olympics are coming up and the American team is in the finals or something. If you didn't know, those things I just mentioned in the last two sentences were a part of Fifty Shades. But back to the not having kids thing; I just think that's ludicrous. Nine times out of ten, the women that drown themselves in sorrow over not being able to have a baby probably haven't ever been around one for an extended period of time. Yes, some babies are cute, you can decorate their rooms all nice and pretty and buy nice outfits and coo at them all you want, but that's an illusion most of the time. That's not what giving birth or raising a baby is all about. People see five photos on Instagram of a woman smiling with her kids or at her baby shower and she puts some bullshit caption with the photos as if she's having the best time of her life, and sadly, so many people buy into it. Meanwhile, you don't know if she has nannies and that pic was the only quality time she spent with her kids in the past week or two, if she beats them, neglects them, or actually hates being a mom. Then again, maybe she loves being a mom, and she just wanted to share her joy. You honestly just don't know the true story, and probably never will. Why would you envy something you have no knowledge of? Most women that know nothing about taking care of babies and badly want one, once they actually do have one and they realize how unbelievably taxing it is, they look like they want to throw themselves off a bridge. Some people are over the moon if they manage to have a baby after years of trying and not being able to, but there are people out there who after years of trying, once they have a kid, they end up thinking, "What the hell did I get myself into?" Maybe it's because I've always known the truth about parenthood, or maybe it's because I've always had many interests in life, but any way you put it, I just can't relate to a woman who would reduce herself to how her face looks and how her ovaries/uterus/fallopian tubes operate. Or perhaps I can see myself as a worthwhile person because I grew up in a relatively young country and I'm not bound by caveman ideas for the human race because most of the buildings I'm surrounded by are hundreds of years old. And no, this has nothing to do with race or religion; this is plain old human ideals and instincts to which I'm referring. And let me just get this one thing straight before I go any further: I like kids. Some of them are cool little people (especially the ones I raised); and I especially LOVE the kids I had a hand in raising. Was it a rewarding experience, engaging in a sort of "secondhand" type of parenting? Actually, it was. I was present for first days of school and I threw birthday parties. I held them as soon as they came home from the hospital. I changed diapers and I took care of them when they were sick. I had plenty of bad days with them when they were little, but I have good memories of them that I cherish as well. They're all practically adults now—well, two of them bonafide adults—ages 22, 20, and 14. But I'm not, nor was I ever considered, their mother, even though a few people thought I was the fourteen-year-old's mother when she was younger because I was always present whenever anything happened at her school instead of her bio mom. And besides them, I've taken care of other people's kids. But stick a fork in me, I'm done. One go-round was enough and thankfully, my uterus didn't have to go through any trouble for me to experience all the things that I did. I'm much closer to forty than I am to twenty and now all I'm worried about is buying a house and if I'll have enough money to live off during my "retirement" years.
Anyway, back to the book review…
I suppose this is a bit of a spoiler as well, so read this particular paragraph at your own risk. At one point in the past, Rachel had actually hoisted herself over the fence of her ex's back garden, went into their house while Anna and her baby was asleep, scooped the baby up, and ran away with the baby in her arms. Alerted by her daughter's sudden cries, Anna got up and chased Rachel. Anna retrieved her and Tom's baby, but at Tom's insistence, they didn't get a restraining order against Rachel, or even report the incident to the police.
After I read that, I put the book down in my lap and I was like, "I'm sorry…excuse me…WHAT?!" I was dumbfounded by that. Utterly and totally dumbfounded. So, in this author's world, a woman is excused for such erratic and dangerous behavior such as KIDNAPPING AN INFANT. There's no way around it and there's no other way to put it—Rachel kidnapped her ex's daughter, but he made a few excuses to his new(est) wife urging her to drop it. Apparently, we're "brutes" over in this part of the world if we not only get a restraining order, but we'd punch someone like Rachel in the face and break her nose if she ever did something like that. I would have beaten the shit out of her. Most (normal) women would probably blow a gasket if their boyfriend or husband's ex even looked at or touched their child, let alone trespassed onto their property, grabbed her while she was sleeping and ran off with her. Then again, they do have some rather odd laws over there and nonchalant attitudes about things that we totally see differently over here. For instance, I doubt any police (or judge) would charge a mother for assault if she punched another woman in the face for abducting her child, but over there, they just might. On another note—but hopefully you'll get my drift—over there, if someone breaks into your home and assaults you, and you wound them or kill them, there's a 98% chance that YOU—the victim—will end up going to prison. See how backwards that is? Also, guns are outlawed over there. There's not just a strict policy surrounding ownership, I mean BANNED. I think everybody knows this by now, but you'll get five years of incarceration no matter what for being in possession of a firearm. No priors needed. Five years. Has the murder rate or violence decreased over there? Not even close. London is one of the most violent cities in Europe; their crime rate is sky high. Stabbings are common. Just because guns are illegal, that doesn't mean that there aren't weapons searches that turn up things like swords and all sorts of other types of blades. Maybe you won't find a person lying out in front of your house riddled with bullets, but you may just find someone slumped near your doorstep with their arm hanging off because someone took a katana to them. That actually happened to someone I know that lives there (they're not the one that got their arm practically chopped off, but the person was outside their house). Cameras are all over Europe, and they capture most of the murders on a recording and I think they play certain parts of them back on the news sometimes. Their news is like a horrible real-life horror movie if you didn’t know. I've heard the way their news anchors talk; no way would our anchors get away with talking the way they do over there. It's not just that they're frank, I can't even explain it…it's just brutal. I'm not sure if I made my point with all I just said, but a lot of times I've heard Brits say that Americans "overreact" too much to certain things. Maybe that's true in their eyes, but I've encountered enough of them to know that it seems that we're wired (mentally) differently over here than they are there; I'm not trying to sound like a bastard, that's just an observation. Things that we find rude or awful, it's normal to them. But still…kidnapping a baby and sitting idly by while your husband "handles it"? I think not. Not to mention the other harassment Rachel dished out to them. They had more than enough ground to not only get a restraining order against Rachel, but she should have been put in jail, plain and simple. Her behavior was practically insane.
Another spoiler, though I won't mention whom this situation belongs to, if that helps. This particular spoiler will come in the form of a statement (of outrage): No mother in her right flippin' mind takes a bath WITH her infant/toddler! Notice, I said no mother in her "right mind"; that should also be construed as no mother with common sense would do that. Why? The answer should be simple, but I'll explain anyway for those who have never taken care of kids before. First of all, a comfortable bath temp for a child (especially an infant or toddler) wouldn't be a comfortable bath temp for an adult. The simplest way to test the temperature of the water to see if it's okay for a baby is to use either your wrist or your elbow (preferably your elbow because it's most sensitive) and it should feel lukewarm, if that. You know, so you won't burn your baby's very sensitive skin. To most adults, if they tried to take a bath in that same temp in a tub full of water, it would be much too cool for them. Also, most mothers with a few marbles wouldn't use the same bath gel/soap in the tub for themselves as their baby; as I mentioned about a sentence or two before, a baby's skin is much more sensitive than an adult's (I can't even believe I'm actually explaining this…). Second of all, the only time a mom would let her daughter get in the bathtub with her (if she EVER does, that is) is once the kid can talk. Why is that, you ask? Well, mainly the kid can communicate whether the water is too hot for her not. Usually, it would be. Most adult women wouldn't want to take a bath in lukewarm water. We like hot water. Not boiling hot, obviously, but hot enough to see some steam rising from the bubbles and for the mirrors (or any shiny surfaces in the bathroom) to get misty. With that said, I've never understood situations when I've heard of mothers who leave their one and two year olds in bathtubs of water to answer a phone or the front door. Never. A phone call can wait, and so can whomever the person is at the door. If it were that urgent, anybody would have a towel handy and all they'd have to do is scoop their baby up and run to the door holding the sopping little guy or gal. I would think it's better to have your kid whiny because it's a little cold or they had to leave their rubber ducky behind than to come back and find them floating dead in the water, but then again, that's just me. Some things are preventable, but other things are accidents. What was described in this book wasn't so much as an accident as plain old stupidity. Should I say it? Fine, I'll say it. Who the fuck goes to sleep holding their baby in a bathtub? It's worse than that bitch that left her baby outside at the store in the blistering hot summer and those legions of other idiotic moms piped up in her favor saying people were being too hard on her. REALLY???!!!
I think most of the people that reviewed this book and had their statements placed on the back cover of this novel have to be some of the biggest morons on the planet, or they smoke crack. On top of that, I can't believe this book was actually so huge that it has over 38,000 reviews (and counting) on Amazon. As far as the "mystery" part goes, it's fairly average, but I think I'll be the only person who'll admit that. Let me post some of those lies reviews from the back of the novel on here right now.
"Hawkins keeps the tension ratcheted high in this thoroughly engrossing tale of intersecting strangers and intimate betrayals. Kept me guessing until the very end." –Lisa Gardner, #New York Times-bestselling author of the Detective D.D. Warren series
"I simply could not put it down." –Tess Gerritsen, New York Times-bestselling author of the Rizzoli and Isles series
"Gripping, enthralling—at top-notch thriller and compulsive read." –S.J. Watson, New York Times-bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep
"Be ready to be spellbound, ready to become as obsessed…The Girl on the Train is the kind of book you'll want to press into the hands of everyone you now, just so they can share your obsession and you can relive it." –Laura Kasischke, author of The Raising
"What a group of characters, what a situation, what a book! It's Alfred Hitchcock for a new generation and a new era." –Terry Hayes, author of I Am Pilgrim
"Artfully crafted and utterly riveting. The Girl on the Train's clever structure and expert pacing will keep you perched on the edge of your seat, but it's Hawkin's deft, empathetic characterization that will leave you pondering this harrowing, thought-provoking story about the power of memory and the danger of envy." – Kimberly McCreight, New York Times–bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia
After I was finished reading the book, I re-read the first review by Lisa Gardner (an author I've never heard of, and if I have seen her books, I haven't paid any attention to them, nor would I ever, considering her opinion of this book) and hers made me laugh out loud. While I have no problem saying that Hawkins wrote this book well, this book was not filled with tension at all. Filled with annoyances, yes—tension, no. The only bit of tension I felt was at the very end (maybe two or three pages of the story) when there was a little physical tussling going on. That was the height of the proposed "tension." Gardner made it sound like there are tons of engrossing moments throughout this novel, when really there aren't any. To be honest, I thought I'd figured out who the killer was a long time ago and I was just going through the motions of reading the rest of the novel to see how the killer was going to be caught, and once I discovered I was wrong there was just this, "Oh…" moment. Nothing big or emotional, just…oh, okay, my bad.
Terry Hayes (never heard of him or her either) compared Hawkins with Alfred Hitchcock. They have to be fucking kidding. Sadly, though, he or she is not.
"Artfully crafted and utterly riveting"…??? Um, synonyms for the word "riveting" are fascinating, spellbinding, and exciting. Uh, did I read the same book as these people? There's nothing "spellbinding" or "exciting" about this story or these characters. None of the characters in this novel are "fascinating." If I had to describe any of these characters to anyone, I wouldn't be able to separate them by personality traits, but by slapping them into categories of who was chronically depressed, emotionally/mentally disturbed, who was downright pathetic, who was overall unpleasant, and who actually turned out to be evil. But trust me, the "evil" in this novel has no real depth to it—it's not like the type of characters with layers and intrigue that you'd find in a Stephen King (his much older novels, at least), Wally Lamb, Anne Rice, Barbara Kingsolver, or Cormac McCarthy stories. Regardless if they're not necessarily in the same genre, good fiction is good fiction, and good character development is what it is. In all honesty, I'd rather recommend that real readers (especially young women) pick up the dystopian novels by Lauren Oliver than read this book by Paula Hawkins no matter how well Hawkins writes.
The only person I have respect for under those reviews is Tess Gerritsen, who didn't embellish. She simply said that she couldn’t put it down, and you can take that however you want. I didn't even like the story that much and I found that I couldn't put it down either.
There is something extremely disturbing going on literature right now: Grown women are pumping their fists and cheering for WEAK female characters. I'm not sure what this says about the women of today. There are so many female authors that seem to be on the sidelines rooting for this novel when the main female characters of The Girl on the Train are utterly despicable. All I could think when I put the book down was that if ANY of those women had any dignity and backbone, NONE of what happened would have gone as far as it had in the first place. However, another disturbing thing I've come to realize is most of it is some sort of American obsession with ANY book that is set in London (or so it seems).
Let me tell you a little something about London, just in case you don't know…
In the story, the house that Rachel's ex, Tom, is living in cost £400,000. If you've already read the novel, I hope you understand the currency rates and you knew that the house actually cost them closer to $750,000. I also hope you understand that a house worth £400,000 over there would actually be worth between $75,000-150,000 over here with the way its interior is designed as well as where it's located. Have you ever visited London and its surrounding areas? Have you ever seen photos of their houses and their neighborhoods? Have you ever seen (real) television programs and movies that show how the outside as well as the inside of most of their houses look? I mean, the average house over there? Even some of the brokest people (yes, I realize "brokest" is not a word…) I know have more indoor space than they do. And think about this little tidbit: What realtor over here (in America) do you know would sell someone a house over $100,000 with train tracks practically running through their front yards? If you think life is all glamorous and better in London (and the towns/cities on the outskirts of London), think again. The houses that retail for £5 million (+) over there (or about $8.5 million or more) would barely run you $600,000 where I live and at least you get real fucking closets and not armoires stuck in the corners of your bedrooms. And I won't even get into the nonexistent laundry rooms—that's just weird. So don't read this story and imagine that they're living in a house that would be worth $400,000 in America because our real estate is not even in the same ballpark over here that it is in Europe. Regardless of what anyone would claim, you'd come out better in the U.S. real estate market if you're talking a (much) nicer home for less money.
But try telling the Americans that adore this book stuff about England and I doubt they'd want to hear it. For whatever reason, the publishing industry here is willing to overlook the fact that this book really isn't all that amazing and special, but they want people to believe that it is—why? I couldn't tell you. Oh wait, yes I do! Just listen to a person has an English accent, a publishing house goes all gooey and they'll practically co-sign on a Brit's grocery list if it seems "fascinating" enough.
You can skip this next paragraph as well, because I'm just going to talk about London, really, not the book.
Many Americans don't realize that the version of London that they show on TV and in most of the movies isn't the real London. If they watched shows like Eastenders (a UK soap opera) and Attack the Block (a movie), they'd get a better idea of what the people of London are really like, personality-wise. A really telling thing that happened concerning the show Eastenders was when a certain character actually stole someone's baby after her baby died—ON THE TV SHOW, mind you. But get this, the ACTRESS that played the part of the woman on the show got harassed on the street because of what happened on the TV SHOW! She was ready to quit the show with all the harassment she was dealing with. And we're supposed to be the stupid ones??? They didn't write to the show and complain to the writers and/or producers, but they were actually nasty to the actress because in their refined intelligence, they'd come to believe that she'd actually stolen a child in real life. That happened a couple of years ago by the way (actually, it was probably more like three or four years ago; I've lost count). When you see London on TV and in movies, usually they film a couple of streets in central London and pawn it off as if that's the way the city really is. When celebrities visit London, they're kept in the central area by whoever's handling them. They stay away from north, south, and east London especially. Why? Because those are some of the roughest parts of the borough. Going to school is even dangerous over there. Forget fistfights, in a lot of places (both in the past and present) some British parents were/are probably fortunate that they don't get a call in the middle of the day to inform them that their child is dead; and no, they weren't skipping school, they were probably in class. The majority of the schools in London enforce a uniform policy, not because they are soooo sophisticated compared to Americans or anybody else, but because kids were getting killed over their (designer) clothes. That sounds like something that happens in inner-city New York or somewhere in Cali or something, right? What you have to understand is London is a place that's very urban—not urbane, but urban. They do have projects, only they call them "estates", which admittedly sounds better than "projects", but it's ultimately the same thing. And before you say, "Well, look at the things that happen over here compared with what you just mentioned. The same things happen all the time, just watch the news." I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Look at the size of the U.S. and then compare it to the SIZE of London and see if that adds up. Not the same thing, buddy.
Back to the book (and yes, I'm almost finished with this review, so calm the fuck down)…
It didn't really surprise me that I didn't really like any of the characters in this story and all of their personalities were grating; I've found that to be pretty true of the British people I've come in contact with. They say we're corny, but a lot of them are (and I realize how juvenile I'm about to sound…) really mean. I'm sort of laughing as I type this. It's more than frank talk, as I mentioned before; it's just…well…MEAN. And miserable. For example: You know how, if you go into a store and someone's standing next to you, sometimes you'll make a comment to a cashier or a random person how much less a particular product is another store, and it's a "no-harm no-foul" situation. Well, try that in London or somewhere around the area. This American guy did that in a store once saying how a product (let's use a box of batteries, in this case) were A LOT cheaper where he came from "back home" (in other words, America). It was a rather offhanded statement, but an older British woman who overheard him went, "Then go back to America…" Old or not, wouldn't she be a bit of a bitch for saying that? I would think so. The guy was just stating the difference in cost or something—was the irritated backlash he received actually warranted? It wasn't. Every time I hear an American claim that they visited London and the people were "so nice" all I can help but think is, "Did everyone that I've ever had contact with—along with those that act like them—in London hide once they saw those particular Americans coming, or what?" People in London aren't nice, not in the way we think of the term "nice". A lot of women in America complain about the way their boyfriends and husbands behave, but I'd say count your blessings for what you have. Just be thankful he isn't British because then you'd really get the gist of what being in an "unpleasant" relationship truly is. But hey, those are just my experiences.
If you're wondering why I even bothered to give this novel three hearts if I ragged on it so bad, I think it was mainly because of the exaggerated amount of praise this story has gotten which I don't think it deserves. I stated at the beginning that whodunits aren't my cup of tea, but because people went overboard acting as if this book was so unbelievably amazing, I bought into the hype thinking that I would probably like it, but it's the same as nearly every story that's been put on a pedestal over the last decade—it doesn't deserve to be there. I may not have liked Anastasia Steele, but I did like the story of Fifty Shades even if it wasn't written well, but I don't understand its almost obscene popularity. I don't understand why The Rosie Project was so popular either; it wasn't an amazing story, even though The Rosie Effect (Graeme Simsion's second novel) actually deserved the hype its predecessor received. There are a few novels I have yet to read and I just haven't gotten around to it (a couple by Elena Ferrente as well as Best Boy and A Little Life), but the thing is, those titles are all on Book Page's top 50 List and I no longer believe they know what a good novel is. The only novel that I read over the past 10 years that got the hype it deserved was The Hunger Games, and in 2015 the only novel that deserved the description of "riveting" was Finders Keepers. It was one of those stories that actually did have me sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen next. Every reader knows when they have a riveting story on their hands—you have to FORCE yourself not to flip through the pages to see what happens toward the end. Don't worry, I doubt you'd have the same issues with The Girl on the Train if you do decide to read it. By the time I reached page 200 in The Girl on the Train, the most "riveting" thing going on was Rachel kept repeating, "I wish I could remember what happened that night…" That's what most of the book hangs on: Rachel's lost memory of one night. Keep in mind that Rachel isn't even particularly bright; she's mainly just nosy, judgmental, and sad. That's the other thing that annoyed the piss out of me about this book; the plot revolves around someone's lack of a personal life and plain old nosiness. It's not detective nosiness or the nosiness of genuine concern, it's the nosiness of a woman who has no life and wants desperately to be a part of something.
I'll make an observation plenty of people won't like: the woman who wrote this book is not a happy person. No mentally stable woman with even a half-positive outlook on life in general could have written characters that were so utterly loathsome, and since there is no other story for me to judge Hawkins by, I'm sorry, but fiction or not, anyone who can sit down and write something as bleak as this needs some help themselves. I've read horror stories that weren't this depressing. If I had to give this book a color, it would be gray. Don't believe the hype: this book isn't exciting, it's depressing.
If you haven't realized it yet, some of this review was just me venting. I don't hate London nor do I hate Brits (in fact, I think of London and Brits in the same vein as I do NY and New Yorkers; there's a superiority complex there), and I know this is hard to believe, but I actually do like a couple of them. Dare I say, I am actually quite fond of maybe one or two of them. Do I think England would be a great place to live and that English people would be wonderful people to hang out with? I wouldn't go that far. It's one of the most expensive cities in the world; you'd go broke just trying to survive. I guess my biggest problem is I just don't understand why some books and some writers are made to be a big deal mainly because of where they come from.
Before I get to my last paragraph, let me just say that I’m probably the only person that thinks this way about this book. EVERY editor and author on the planet seems to give this novel rave reviews. I don’t get it, but at least I know they’d call me stupid for thinking this book doesn’t deserve all the attention it’s getting. You should also keep in my mind that my one little opinion does NOT matter out of millions of other people who LOVE this book—I know it, and you should know it, too.
I wouldn't recommend this book. I'm sorry, but if someone acts like the twist at the end of the book is remarkable, don't believe them; it's not worth reading through 300 pages for. In fact, every whodunit is meant to have a bit of a twist at the end—that's standard writing procedure in a thriller/mystery. Hawkins is a very good writer, but I doubt I'll read anything else she writes, especially if it's in the whodunit category. If it's in another genre, I'd consider checking it out, but even then I'd hesitate, but that's how good of a writer I think she is. As far as a whodunit goes, I want to make this clear: THIS BOOK IS NOT ANYTHING SPECIAL! DON'T LET ALL THOSE MAGAZINE REVIEWS FOOL YOU! IT'S AN ORDINARY MYSTERY! If you like mysteries, maybe you should go for it, but if you don't, don't bother.
**By the way, I changed my rating at the last minute from 3 hearts to 2 hearts. Either way, I wouldn’t renege on anything I’ve said about the story.