Michelle's Reviews > The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
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did not like it

I just sent a 3 page, 3,000 word email about why I didn't like this book to a friend, and I still feel the urge to express myself. I suppose that tells you just how much I disliked it.

This thing is a hot mess, the writing is clumsy, there are things that don't make any sense, the characters are pathetic and the opposite of complex. The women in this book are either defined by the men they are dating/married to, or by how they feel about being a mother (and by that I mean, do they already have a child, do they want a child, or (view spoiler)?) Bleugh. The 'plot twist' is easy to guess not even halfway through the book, and the who-dun-it moment, where we find out who the bad guy is, while predictable, doesn't make any sense to me, considered how this book is written and what we know about the characters. Exposition, people. There isn't any. You might argue that it's because of the unreliable narrator, but I'm not buying it. Good writing works its way around it. Also, I didn't know 'thriller' translated to 'no character development'.

And have I mentioned the clumsy writing? Because I was getting secondhand embarrassment 85% of the time. This book was, above all things (that I honestly didn't care about), awkward.
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Quotes Michelle Liked

Paula Hawkins
“The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train


Reading Progress

January 1, 2015 – Shelved
January 1, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
January 20, 2015 – Started Reading
January 21, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 100 (100 new)


message 1: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Yanulis Spot on.


Lydia Costello white Yes, I just finished it. How can a novel that gives its female characters only the features you named, be so bloody popular and a 'must read' novel!!!!


Lydia Costello white Yes, I just finished it. How can a novel that gives its female characters only the features you named, be so bloody popular and a 'must read' novel!!!!


Michelle Lydia wrote: "Yes, I just finished it. How can a novel that gives its female characters only the features you named, be so bloody popular and a 'must read' novel!!!!"

I couldn't agree more. It's been months and every time someone likes this review or the book shows up somewhere, I cringe. I'm still so disappointed. To read a book with such horrible female characters, it saddens me. And I honestly wish I could sit down with everyone who thinks this is a must read or a great novel and tell them exactly why they're wrong, make them understand that this is not how you write women. I have no problem with a female character that doesn't fit my idea of an ideal protagonist, but with a handful of women who are all written in the same, awful way, I can't pardon it.


Heather L Michelle, I couldn't agree more. I don't believe that anyone is entitled to put upon such a strong opinion of a book. But that being said, I just wonder about the people that liked this book -- what do they actually look for in a good book? What do they base their opinions on when it comes to a good character? I've read many books where there were unlikeable characters. But as I described these ones in my review, EVERY single one is despicable. For that reason alone, it's not a thriller or good story. I throw my hands up, I just don't get it. :)


Michelle Paul wrote: "The writing is soooo clumsy. And lazy. The only way Hawkins can generate a plot twist is by withholding information that doesn't actually need to be withheld. There is absolutely no logical reason ..."

Pretty much! My ~~review is clumsy as hell too so I wasn't sure I'd get my point across, but that's basically what I wanted to say. As a reader, the plot twist didn't shock or surprise me at all (for the same reasons you mention), but at the same time, the way she wrote the characters, it made zero sense motive-wise. I know this is supposed to be an 'unreliable narrator' story, but there are still limits set up by basic storytelling. The entire plot is 100% first-plan and unsatisfying throughout the book.


message 7: by J. (new) - rated it 2 stars

J. Reading styles are changing and so many of the popular books reflect the quick hit. This results in the loss of beautifully developed characters and story that takes skillful writing. I'm always glad that people will pick up a book but this is the style many people like nowadays. If there had been a forum in the '70s for Harlequin Readers to write reviews, would they have started typing and gushed?


Hannah Very good point about the female characters - that kind of mawkishness about having children really annoys me in lots of novels. It lacks originality and paints women as wombs with legs.


Cathy Field finch Absolutely agree! Terribly written. I don't get the fascination. I would never recommend this book.


Jamie Thistle I agree it was written terribly. It's the author's first book so hopefully if she releases another it will be a little better.


Alissa Nailed it. Couldn't agree more.


message 12: by A (new)

A Dene Badly written and actually regret wasting my time!


message 13: by Nan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Nan I disliked this book so much, I actually interrupted a conversation two perfect strangers were having in a bookstore to tell them to not buy it...You nailed it with this review!


message 14: by Cathy (new) - added it

Cathy Sargent People who get punched in the face by the 800 pound gorilla of addiction and live to tell about it are remarkable human beings. To use the words of Stephen King: The alcoholic narrator was dead perfect. I interpreted this to mean that in spite of being a hopeless drunk, she went to therapy and continued to ask herself this question: how can I be responsible for something I cannot remember? I want to feel something I want to feel more. In detailing the scenery and characters going by including the killing, she was able to start feeling something. Continuing to re story what she say going by on the train led to her unorthodox recovery from alcoholism....and being aligned with the mistress wife of her x husband. What a revolutionary idea! They were both aligned in their perspective that the man of their dreams was a power taker who blamed his victims. It was this mistress wife who told Rachael the hopeless drunk to take care of herself. By counting the days of sobriety as she counted the days of being on the train that led to her complete recovery from alcoholism. And that for me was dead perfect character development. This gone girl is not gone!


message 15: by Kate (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kate Gaughan Michelle, thanks for that review. It was exactly how I felt after reading this.


Randy Hot mess describes this book perfectly. Paula Hawkins becomes a multimillionaire for writing this dreck?


message 17: by Chronic (new)

Chronic Negress Thanks for saving me the time


Gordon Gauss I find it interesting that, as usual, everyone agrees with this reader's review. Hmmmm, NYT best seller mostly 4-5 star reviews. I thought Rachel was the one who wanted all the attention. You sure got your share in this string of nonsense.


Urszula Totally agree, great review! I especially liked the "opposite of complex" part, which so perfectly defines the characters :)


message 20: by Tia (new) - rated it 1 star

Tia Goodnight Perfectly describes my thoughts


message 21: by Sara (new) - added it

Sara Bartlett Doesn't it make you wonder how books are published today? I've tried to read this twice, guess I will finish just to review. I've been an avid reader 50+ years, this is not good writing.


message 22: by Janet (new) - rated it 1 star

Janet The thing is I didn't see was any character development other than diving deeper into soft hot shit. Ugh!


Sophie Michelle, you just can't handle it.


Felicia Hughes I couldn't figure out how this was not a first draft! I felt like it was a couple of rewrites away from being publishable.


message 25: by Diane (new)

Diane Weber I looked at it as Cathy did. Guess as with Any book, it's a matter of perspective! I understood this misunderstood character as there are So many out there today Needing Help & just sure Where or How to get it~just Not Riding A Train! Lol


message 26: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Ann Michelle, I totally agree. Clumsy, awkward, dreary writing and plot.


message 27: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Ann Michelle, some of your review also verified what I had been wondering about: WHERE the hell is the GIRL on the train? Yup, I agree "The women in this book are either defined by the men they are dating/married to, or by how they feel about being a mother" and thus "Girls." In my head, I'm remembering an Agatha Christie moved with a WOMAN on a train...


Nicola Bayley It doesn't show the men in a good light either though, so does it really matter if the women aren't presented well?


message 29: by Mary (new)

Mary This book had all the things I usually like but just couldn't get into them at all! And while I was reading your review, I had my eureka moment!
The problem I have with this book is not that the characters in the book are just a hot mess, they are uninteresting and underdeveloped. I think you can have a god awful human being as a main character, but when it's well developed, the readers will understand and, even more, be able to identity with him/her which makes the reading more engaging.
This book feels as shallow and clueless as a Disney channel movie special about a troubled high school girl, written and directed by a middle aged male.


Sondra It is refreshing to see there are others that hated it! At first I thought I was nuts! I am still amazed at the rave reviews.


message 31: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Ann Sondra wrote: "It is refreshing to see there are others that hated it! At first I thought I was nuts! I am still amazed at the rave reviews."
Yes! My sister and I both read the whole thing. We are each on different sides of the continent and regret having "finished" reading it. It plodded along. Poorly written, minimal plot. Rather simplistic.


Susan Meanwell Ne Burniston Got to page 150 utter crap! Need therapy now !


message 33: by Bev (new)

Bev Im a bit confused, not sure if I fell asleep at some point reading this book, can someone tell me how the clothes (Anna's ? )got on the track please? Not the best book I've read to be honest, boring and I had already guessed who killed Megan!


message 34: by Sol (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sol Daguio This is not comparable to Gone Girl. It's not even close to the novel that Gone Girl was. It lacks a certain fluidity to it. I felt it dragged on for so long before finally ending anticlimactically


message 35: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Ann Wish I could put up a "like" icon for your review! It was very poorly written, lacking in plot, and truly ..well, you said it.


message 36: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Irvin It seems to me that the original version of this story "Lady on a Train" from 1945 is a much better story. Maybe the book would have been better if the author had an origional plot.
It surprises me that the word "plagiarism" has never been mentioned in association with this book.


message 37: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Ann Yes. I am still troubled and distressed that this "book" is also being made into a movie...


Grace Tom had two sides to his personality; that is where the twist was. He lied to everyone; I liked the book, no so much the movie.


message 39: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Perrin I think that is what a lot of people liked about this book, a very different style of writing and flawed characters.


message 40: by Dana (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dana I could not agree with this post more!


queen.m WHAT THE HELL ARE U GUYS OUT OF UR MIND THIS BOOK IS AWESOME . u guys need to not piont out small details and should just enjoy the book.


Michelle HAZY wrote: "WHAT THE HELL ARE U GUYS OUT OF UR MIND THIS BOOK IS AWESOME . u guys need to not piont out small details and should just enjoy the book."

A book is a work comprised of small details that either make a good whole piece or not. In my personal opinion, these small details don't make a good book. In your personal opinion, they do. That's all.


Cheyenne I wouldn't agree but everyone has there own opinion


message 44: by Jade (new) - rated it 1 star

Jade I can't agree more. It's so bad you need to wash it out of your brain. Makes you wonder what about it got it published!

I fear for the future of literature when I see people awarding this book 5 stars. I do not want to have a lengthy conversation with anyone who rated this 5 stars. I'd... just chalk it up to personality differences. Cheers.


message 45: by Najat (new) - rated it 1 star

Najat Thank you thank you thank you

This book troubled me from start to finish , nothing make sense and the ending was a total major what the fuck just happened .

I had to through the book so many times against the wall because everything about it frustrated me. And I don't have high hopes for the movie either .


Hannah I liked the book but was also a little put off by the way the women's identities were centered around their relationships with men. I would describe the book as "brain candy"; riveting and easy to read but nothing educational or informative.


Bchara I quite liked the book but someone who sends a 3000 words email about her readings can't be a bad person


message 48: by Sandy (new) - rated it 1 star

Sandy Affer This book jumped around too much, and far too much unnecessary details. Like a kid telling their mom a story that keeps going g off on tangents.


message 49: by Ella (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ella *SPOILERS AHEAH*Wow. You guys understood this book so 100% differently than me. It's funny how people read the same book so differently. "The book revolved around the female characters relationships with men/a man"...For me it's a bit of a silly statement to make. That's what the book was about though? You're saying it like that's a bad thing? 3 women who were all victims of the same man and his lies, manipulation and extreme abuse, both mental and physical. That's what the book was largely about. Sure they were all flawed and were ultimately unlikable characters, but to me a book doesn't have to have likable characters to be an enjoyable book. That's not always the case in real life. I especially felt great sympathy for Rachel after learning about the horrible gaslighting that was done to her. This doesn't mean that she didn't have flaws or wasn't responsible for any of her actions at all, but I didn't think all the characters were so black and white that they were either exclusively bad or good.


message 50: by Ella (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ella I'd be really interested to know what didn't make sense to you guys?


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