Author: Paula Hawkins
First Published: 2015
Page Count: 323
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 4/5 Stars
There is a fantastic story within these pages, though the journey is a very dark one.
*Drowning in Negativity *Slow Sections
“There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.” Rachel takes the commuter train every week day into London. As it passes a quaint suburban neighborhood, Rachel has taken to watching out for a particular couple in a particular house. She’s named them Jess and Jason, and created a picture perfect story for how she imagines they live from her observations. However, that fantasy is shattered one day when she witnesses something from her window in the train. She is soon entrenched in a police investigation that has her wondering whether she should have just minded her own business considering she has enough on her plate as she tries to cope with her broken past.
By the last page, you can’t help but think…wow. That was all in one book? From the beginning, the reader is drawn into the story. Who hasn’t been in Rachel’s shoes and imagined what the stranger across the street’s life is like or what is going on in the house down the road? I thought I had the plot all figured out, but Hawkins dangles so many red herrings in front of us that there was no way I could’ve predicted the ending. The story starts out so simply with the main character merely catching sight of something she probably shouldn’t have. However, by the end, Hawkins has created a complex, twisted story that leaves you in awe at how everything ties together.
I kept hearing this was the next Gone Girl. That’s high praise considering that’s one of my favorite books. Other then the fact that it is a highly engaging thriller, I had a very different reading experience with this book compared to Gone Girl. A big part of the novel is Rachel’s alcoholism and Hawkins deserves all the praise in the world for successfully capturing the hopelessness, loneliness, and downward spiral that occurs when one abuses alcohol. I felt engulfed in Rachel’s negative life style and this is compounded by the other poor choices or past mistakes that every major character in this book makes. It’s as if you’re drowning in negativity and it got to the point where I couldn’t stand any of the characters because they were all such horrible people. I didn’t want a happy ending for anyone because none of them deserved it. Reading about Rachel’s struggles not only depletes your energy but it slows the pace of the book. It takes awhile before the twists in the book start connecting to form answers to the reader’s questions, and being left with Rachel and the other character’s poor choices can be frustrating to read when you just want to know what it all means.
While this story did not live up to the hype for me, meaning I didn’t find it better then Gone Girl, it is still a fantastic read. The novel is emotionally draining because every character in this book is a piece of work. It means that the reader gets quite a story, but it also might mean that your next book have a lighter air to it so you can recover from the drama and dark tone of this one of a kind thriller.
*Film Adaptations: (Starring Emily Blunt 2016)