The Girl on the Train

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Hope you have all been keeping well! I’ve been living under a rock apparently, as I’m sure I’m one of the last to read the suspenseful hit of 2015, the global bestseller and soon to be movie (starring Emily Blunt). This is the review for The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.

If you too have been living in a dark, isolated place over the past year, let’s see if this thriller interests you…

The Girl on the Train is divided by chapters that are told in first person view from a variety of characters. The central character is Rachel, an overweight alcoholic in her late 20s whose life has gone from perfect to disaster in the past five years. She had it all- a great job, a loving husband, health and happiness. We’re catching her at her lowest point, after she’s lost it all.

On her daily train trips (whilst sneaking booze from her handbag), she always takes note of a particular house she passes, which has what appears to be a loving couple within. Often the lady of the house, Megan, is sitting outside. Rachel imagines what life is like for the couple, creates a little backstory in her mind as to what their lives are like.

When Megan is reported missing, Rachel decides to investigate.

The back cover of the novel has a quote from The Times review which states: “My vote for unreliable narrator of the year.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Rachel is unreliable for a lot of reasons- her constant consumption of alcohol has made her memory poor and untrustworthy, she’s desperately lonely, and she’s often overstepping personal boundaries because of this. She is somewhat, for want of a better term, mentally unstable. However, her situation could have happened to anyone- and she’s sympathetic and relatable because of this. Despite her faults, as a reader you feel compassion towards her, you want her to solve the case, and you want her to start rebuilding her life. You want all of this, but you can’t shake the idea that Rachel is also a suspect in this suspenseful tale.

This novel maintains its suspense as it unravels the story slowly, keeping you reading to unlock more clues as to the circumstances of Megan’s disappearance. The switch between chapters from different viewpoints keeps it lively and interesting. Particularly good are the chapters from Megan’s viewpoint, who is a well developed character with, of course,many secrets that need unveiling.

A weakness of this novel is that some of the character chapters are stronger than others. As just mentioned, the chapters from Megan are particularly good. Others, such as the chapters that focus on Anna, one of Megan’s neighbours, feel thin, and the character is less fleshed out and I felt, too superficial. Anna’s viewpoint often doesn’t reveal enough new information and was repetitive of other characters viewpoints. However, this is only a minor flaw in the context of the novel as a whole.

This book is absolutely perfect for reading whilst travelling, especially if it’s on a train! It will have you looking out the window, thinking over the mystery, and will have you pondering about the lives of strangers you pass. It is an easy read, and the chapters are short, great for filling in small gaps in your free time. I did pick whodunnit, but only a chapter or two before it was revealed.

It’s not one of the greatest novels of all time, but it’s a great suspenseful story that will keep you hooked until a satisfactory conclusion. I recommend suspense lovers give it a read if you haven’t already.

Thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

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Happy Reading 🙂

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to the Boss Book Club!

Today I will be reviewing Gillian Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects. Gillian Flynn is the novelist behind the book/movie Gone Girl.

Before I go any further the first thing I will say is this book will not be for everyone. It is definitely an adult novel, which I would pitch at an 18+ age group. It is a thriller with dark content, including: child murder, self- harm, sexual assault and acts of violence. If you want a feel good story then please come back next time.

For those of you wanting to know if this thriller is for you, then read on…

This novel is told from first person view by our leading lady Camille Preaker, a reporter from Chicago who is sent to her home town of Wind Gap after a local girl is found murdered, and another is missing. She is given the task of covering the story of a small town under the threat of a potential serial killer. This will be the first time in eight years that Camille has returned home, and faced her mother Adora, and a stepsister Amma whom she barely knows.

This story can be read in two layers. The first is the mystery of what has happened to the girls and the suspense of finding out who the killer is.  The second layer is learning about our main character Camilla, a troubled woman who is struggling to connect with a family she had left behind.

I think this story has its weaknesses in the first layer: the mystery of what has happened to the girls. There are not many credible options as to who the killer could be, or attention paid to minor characters to pique the readers attention or keep them guessing. When the killer is revealed it makes a lot of sense, rather than leaves you surprised.

Where it has its great strength is the psychological depth of Camilla’s character and the others within her family. Adora the mother, Amma the step-sister and Alan, her step-father share a complex relationship that is thrilling, interesting and at times, disturbing. Camilla’s attitudes and thoughts on life are skewed and her sense of self is oddly affected by her upbringing, and the reader watches as Camilla slowly falters due to being back in the environment she grew up in, and tried to escape.

If you have read or watched Gone Girl then you will find some similarities here: psychologically disturbed characters and deeply flawed relationships between damaged people. If you enjoyed Gone Girl then you will likely enjoy this too.

I thought, three quarters of the way through the book, that in my review I would say I didn’t it. However, when I had reached the ending, I was satisfied. This is a thriller which did have me in suspense until the end, but it was a bit of a journey to get there. The closing chapters were great, and would make a wonderful finale… on the big screen! Which leads me to…

My overall recommendation is to wait for the movie. This is a thriller that thrills, but this can be achieved in three hours or less- I wouldn’t consider it worth spending 12+ hours reading. Apparently a TV movie has been announced so you probably won’t have to wait long! Also, because the book is written in the first person, the story fits tightly around Camilla, and her thoughts and perceptions on everything. The objectivity of a movie may give more focus to other characters, which will hopefully build the suspense of who the killer is a little better.

Thank you for joining us, next time we will be heading into lighter territory with a wonderful children’s book!

 

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

Happy Reading Bosses!