Book Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

Paula Hawkins

Published 2015 by Riverhead Books

336 pages

Girlontrain.jpg

Goodreads Synopsis:

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. 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.

UNTIL TODAY
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 goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

 

My Review:

The story of Rachel and her predictable, boring life takes an unpredicted turn when she becomes the only witness to a change in a stranger’s routine.

Rachel is kind of down and out you could say. Her recent divorce and addiction to alcohol haven’t helped, and she’s living in a sort-of friend’s flat with no prospects of moving out. She doesn’t have much to live for except brief moments of attention from her ex and a gin and tonic from the off-license.

The highlight of her day is riding the 8:04 train to London in order to witness Jesse and Jason, the couple she’s been observing for months. Then one day she sees something wrong from her view on the train, and she thrusts herself into the story of Megan and Scott – the true identities of the couple revealed to her. And she soon discovers that Jess and Jason – Megan and Scott – aren’t quite what she imagined them to be.

When I say she thrusts herself into the story that is exactly what I mean. Rachel is the protagonist in this story, but in many ways she is deeply troubled. Her struggle with loss concedes terrible coping methods, including her need to be actively involved in he disappearance of Megan Hipwell and her suspected husband, Scott.

The story is told from the perspective of three characters – Rachel, who is the girl on the train, Megan, the girl who’s disappeared, and Anna, the new wife of Rachel’s ex. Rachel is an extremely complex character which made the story interesting and helped drive the plot. Megan and Anna were less complex characters, but not un-interesting. The story was driven by the psychological processes and histories of these three women.

The Girl on the Train took me some time to finish. Granted this is mostly due to my own scheduling, but I can’t help but think part of it was due to the fact I was already in tune to how it was all going to end. I knew from the beginning that all three stories were going to be important – Rachel, Megan, and Anna. Rachel and Megan’s parts were obvious, but Anna’s part meant it had another kind of importance and because of this truth, I had a harder time reaching the end because I knew what was waiting there. I’m trying not to give too much away.

However, the ending proved to be an addictive one. Once I reached a certain point in the story I absolutely could not put the book down. I was enthralled and when I finished the book I was a satisfied reader. Paula Hawkins knows how to pull a story together!

4 stars (2)

I give The Girl on the Train a four out of five stars. The characters were unique, particularly Rachel and her dark, blotchy past. The story had a steady build with a gripping end.

Audiobook Review: Neverwhere: BBC Dramatization

 

never

Nevewhere by Neil Gaiman

Dramatization written by Dirk Maggs

Narrated by James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head, David Harewood, and more

Runtime: 3 hours and 48 minutes

Goodreads Synopsis:

Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere.

My Review:

I’ve read a lot of great reviews on this book, and I certainly enjoyed it. However, it wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, and therefore, to my fullest regret, I can not give this review five stars.

Gaiman has never disappointed me, and I’m not saying Neverwhere was a disappointment, but  the abridged version was far too rushed for the entire story to be as compelling as Gaiman originally wrote it.

Let me start with the story. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is a brilliant story, and I was completely captured with London beneath and London above. The premise of the story, a second London in which all memories forgotten, and all of the people who have fallen through the cracks exist, was a thrill. It had everything you love about fantasy – mystery, danger, a little bit of nonesense. I highly recommend the story of Neverwhere

This version was abridged, which I knew before starting. I know that abridged versions can’t possibly tell the story with the same suspense as the original, but I felt this one was shortened too much. The original audiobook is over 12 hours long and this version comes in at less than 3 hours. A fraction of the time means a fraction of the story.

The storytelling itself was very good. It was told by some popular Hollywood voices such as Christopher Lee, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Head…. and more. Neil Gaiman even makes a small appearance. They told the story very well and I had no difficulty with understanding the character’s roles; it was easy to recognize their emotion and predicament simply by the use of tone and expression of the narrators. It is a dramatic reading, so you can expect to get the full effect of the story that is told. It is much like watching a film with your eyes closed. They even used sound effects in every scene. In fact, the sound effects were as much a part of the story as was the voice acting.

The audio mixing was well done, but I had a hard time understanding the actors at times when the sound effects were too dominant. I was listening with my headphones and I was constantly adjusting the volume up and down because the voices would get lost in the sounds of splashing water or sometimes the sound effects would be deafening loud. The sound effects helped lay out the scene, but they interrupted the story at times beyond their usefulness.

I was enjoying the story and nearly addicted to listening to it; I was more than happy to have to wait for the bus to arrive to my stop since it allowed me plenty of time to listen to the story uninterrupted. I made my way through the first 6 chapters and was giddy to begin the last one. I was on a long car drive, so I knew I would be able to finish it without stopping. To my disappointment however, the story was already done. The last 28 minutes of the story, all of chapter 7, were bloopers and additional readings from the cast. I felt cheated out of more story. Granted, the bloopers had me laughing out loud at times, but I was much more interested in learning more of the story.

Ultimately, Neverwhere was worth the read. I still highly recommend this story to anyone with any interest. It’s a compelling story and the voice acting is very well done. I’m sure I will return to it often for a quick read. Some of the sound effects were distracting to the story, and the abridged version will never be a match for the full version, but Neverwhere is engaging fantasy for all book-lovers.

I give Neverwhere: BBC Dramatization a 3 out of 5 stars. 

3 Stars