Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Book Review Club (April 2015)




No doubt you remember my critique partner, Kelly Hayes. Well, she's back to review a book she thoroughly enjoyed. No, this is not an April Fool's joke. (Sorry, but you know I had to fit in something about April 1st!) Kelly really did write the review below! Thank you, Kelly, and I owe you breakfast next week. Take it away! 


THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (adult, psychological thriller)
 by Paula Hawkins

I don’t know if it’s because we as readers have become more jaded or if it’s that the real page-turning plots have been done and redone, but it seems like the books that you can’t put down are getting fewer and fewer these days. You know,  that book you read late into the night even though you have to get up early in the morning or the one you wish you could call in sick to work to finish? Well, for me, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was one of those books. The kind of book that is so riveting, so compulsively readable, that you’ll go anywhere the author wants to take you.

I was originally drawn to this story by the element of lives glimpsed from a moving train. I lived in England for several years and took the over-ground trains more times than I can count. On those journeys I often occupied my mind by imagining lives lived in the houses we passed. But that is where the similarities between Rachel, the book’s titular main character, and I end. Because Rachel is a sad alcoholic who has lost her job, but still gets dressed and pretends to go to work so that her kind hearted roommate won’t find out, all the while drinking warm gin & tonics from a can. The words ‘train wreck’ come to mind.

It isn’t long before we come to understand that the cozy identities and back-stories Rachel makes up for the attractive couple in one particular house she passes every day are not just a means to occupy her time on the train. It’s all part of a coping mechanism. Because just two houses down is where Rachel used to live with her husband, Thom, who now lives there with the woman he left her for, and their baby daughter.  This is where my sympathy for Rachel ratcheted up several notches.  

When Megan, the attractive neighbor, disappears, Rachel’s delusional obsession intensifies. She thinks she has important information regarding the case, but the police soon dismiss her as the pathetic drunk she proves herself to be. At this point the narration begins to alternate between Rachel, Megan, and Thom’s new wife, Anna. And we learn that Rachel is not the only one who has fabricated an elaborate web of denial for herself. It’s now the unreliable narrator times three.

Hawkins uses Rachel’s drunken blackouts and her resulting fractured and incomplete memories to wonderful effect. The suspense is palpable as Rachel grasps for the missing pieces that seem always just out of reach. And yet she knows deep in her gut, as we do, that she holds the key to finding out what happened to Megan. 

The Girl on the Train is top-notch psychological suspense wrapped around a core of gritty realism that hooked me from page one. Like the proverbial train wreck, it grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

Dear FCC: Kelly works at a library. So, as you can imagine, she borrows a lot of books from the library. Just like this one. 

 And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!

YOUNG ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS

Alyssa Goodnight: THE FALCONER by Elizabeth May (fantasy)

Ellen Booraem: SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman (young adult fantasy)
                          SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman (fantasy, sequel to Seraphina)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: REMEMBER by Eileen Cook (mystery)

Rob Costello: REVOLVER by Marcus Sedgwick (thriller)

Sarah Laurence: BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN by Elizabeth Wein (historical)


ADULT FICTION BOOK REVIEWS

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: SECRETS OF THE LOST CAVE by Cheryl Potter (fantasy)

Linda McLaughlin: GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE by Susan Vreeland

Patti Abbott:  HUSH HUSH by Laura Lippman (crime)

Ray Potthoff: A KING'S RANSOM by Sharon Kay Penman (historical)

Scott Parker: CANARY by Duane Swierczynski (crime)


NONFICTION REVIEW

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: OWLS OF THE US AND CANADA by Wayne Lynch



Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!



12 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

Kelly, fine review! I rode quite a few trains when I lived in England too. It sounds like a cool premise, but 3 unreliable narrators might be hard to follow.

Barrie, thanks for hosting!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Kelly, I read the preview of this on my Kindle, and it hooked me, so I put it on hold at the library. I believe I'm #700. :) Great review…I look forward to reading (eventually).

Happy April Fools Day, Barrie! ;)

kelly hayes said...

Thanks, Sarah. It isn't hard to follow, but you never know whose perception to trust, which only adds to the suspense.

Stacy said...

I recently read this. It was very well-written and page turning, but I struggled a bit with the unlikable characters. I do understand the hype though.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Great review, Kelly! I have some friends who were talking about the book, so it's definitely getting some buzz. Now I can see why.

Lucy said...

I love the premise, sounds like something I would enjoy. Great review.

Cloudbuster said...

Great review, Kelly! I've been meaning to pick this one up and now I have an even stronger incentive to do so!

Ellen Booraem said...

Ooo, this sounds wonderful. Love that moment when you realize how unreliable your narrator is--in this case, times three! Thanks for this.

Hope you aren't getting fooled too badly today, Barrie. thanks for hosting!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Tried this a month ago but my mind was not on it. Maybe I will give it another go. Thanks!

Rose said...

This one sounds interesting, though I'm not sure I'd like 3 unreliable narrators. Still, I do love a good page-turner!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I agree with you, Barrie.
I think I'm just getting old and jaded!

troutbirder said...

Sounds most interesting. Thanks for the heads up...:)