I started this post intending to write solely about Into the Water, but soon realized I never did a post on Girl on the Train. Both are by Paula Hawkins in the suspense / thriller genre.
The Girl on the Train
I love psychological thrillers and was so excited to read The Girl on the Train a few years ago soon after it was released. I found this one to be very much like a train wreck – I didn’t love it but I kept on reading to the finish because I couldn’t look away. Overall it was a good mystery, but overshadowed by dysfunction, alcoholism and very sad, unlikable characters.
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.
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?
Into the Water
I read Into the Water by Paula Hawkins over our ski trip and, much like The Girl on the Train, I really, really wanted to love it. I struggled through it, and did finish it, but it fell flat for me. The story was told by way too many points of view, and just never fully engaged me.
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
So my overall rating here is “meh”. I am never sorry that I read something. I’m just not sure I’d reach for Paula Hawkins again. If you have something GREAT you’ve read, share it in the comments.
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