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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Typically I've never been a recent-author person. I have survived (been overwhelmed rather) by writers gone by, with the exception of J.K. Rowling obviously, who, unfortunately, has dimmed everyone else's sheen who came after her. So, when my colleague expounded the benefits of keeping up with the times - particularly along the literary lines - I was forced to think of climbing out of my shell. So he lent me The Girl on the Train. This happened possibly a month back; it took me a couple of weeks to read the book, and my verdict is an uh-huh (or as Sheldon would put it as colon dash).

I'll say upfront what I didn't like about the book. It seemed too cinematic in its veins - right from the plot to the way it unfolded. While being cinematic is what draws me to a lot of books, The Girl on the Train also dabbles effusively into the deepest, scariest, ugliest parts of our minds, which caught my fancy in a macabre way. Somehow as the book was progressing - trying to keep the tautness of the thriller alive - I was more fascinated by the way the women were thinking. Being a woman myself, there were parts I empathised with, parts I were horrified to read about and parts which raised hopes in me. Suddenly I wanted the book to be about the women alone. It offered an explanation to the root of all our problems. In short, I was getting sucked into a gang of girls, trading experiences and nodding our heads sagely.

But then there was this murder to solve.

See, even as I write this, I realise that there  is nothing wrong with the book per se. In fact, it was quite a refreshing read in terms of the flow of the language and the ease with which Hawkins delves into the female psyche. The murder kept getting in the way. While, it was shocking, especially since it involved Megan, I just hoped they would announce who the killer was and move on to how these women were picking up their pieces again. I guess the cocktail of a sensitive topic like abuse of women at several levels and their consequent delusional thinking, with something as raw as a murder didn't go down very well with me.

Having said that, the unravelling of the mystery was very masterful indeed. Rachel's incoherence lent the Memento style of reconstruction of the events of that fateful evening. Since the story was mostly through her eyes, I loved the way the inconsistencies in her thoughts started burning holes in her blanket. The characters were built up in a very real-time manner, the way we - as first time observers - get to know the layers to their personalities. The only simple character in the story was possibly Megan, though one could argue that she lacked the scope to prove her point.

It was all a very good read, I shall not deny that. Only that the climax wasn't quite what I enjoyed. It seemed, as I have mentioned before, too cinematic considering the otherwise softer nature of the book. It felt as if it was destined to be converted into an HBO miniseries. While a miniseries like that wouldn't fail to capture my attention, on the paper it seemed a bit meh.  


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