The Girl on the Train

At the end of this blog entry is my review of The Girl on the Train, being hailed as the latest Gone Girl. Though I give the book a mostly good review, I do have mixed feelings about the attention it has received. The story is definitely entertaining, but is that all that’s needed to make a book become a hot topic? Yes, the story is kind of creepy in the way it exposes the dirty secrets behind seemingly average people. But, the writing is less than laudable, some of the characters are paper thin, and the climax is a bit ludicrous. So, why has it drawn so much attention? Do readers expect so little of books these days that something like this becomes the must-read of the year? After giving it some thought, I attribute its popularity to three factors: l) it’s an easy read; 2) it’s an intriguing mystery; 3) it’s received enough attention that we feel we just have to read it. Word-of-mouth is a great way to sell a book.

Here is my review:

While reading this book, at some point I started to think of it as “The Cuckoo on the Choo Choo.” Good story, but what a frustrating, sad, pathetic leading lady. I call her leading lady because I’m sure this will become a movie. It has all the ingredients: eerie atmosphere, puzzling whodunit plot, and some seriously damaged characters. I did find it hard to read at times because Rachel, the cuckoo, is tiresome. Rachel is a drunk, and one of the best depictions of an alcoholic that I’ve ever read. She is in the throes of her addiction and behaves desperately to get what she thinks she wants, to protect a man from being accused of murder. What she should want is to get sober because her life is rapidly unraveling. But her irrational behavior drives the plot to a wild ride of a climax, a kind of silly one, unfortunately. The killer is cartoonish and stands around blabbing about his/her evil deeds while threatening to harm the leading lady. Who does that, except on bad cop shows? Despite the silly climax. the story carries this book and makes it a mostly entertaining and interesting read.

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