It was when I saw the wait-list for this book at my library that I thought ‘holy smokes’.
Sure, it had topped the best-selling charts all year. Been optioned for a movie. Sold eight million copies worldwide and was Amazon’s best selling book of 2015.
But there were ELEVEN people ahead of me on the reserved list at the library. That means it was big. REAL BIG.
So when I handed my hard-earned money over (I couldn’t wait) I was expecting something great. A female psychological thriller. A catchy title. A mystery. A girl on a train. What’s not to love?
Except you know what the real mystery is? The real psychologically thrilling part that I can’t de-code?
How on earth did this book end up a bestseller? Because The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins, is not great. At all.
It’s not just the writing (my book club compadre Jo Lauder compared it to a “year ten student…at best” Ouch.). It’s all of it. The characters are unlikeable. The red-herring moment, so crucial to a good mystery, is so obvious that she may as well have titled that character “Mr Red Herring”. The sketchy plot and the convenience of using drunken memory-loss as a tool to drive the narrative? Oh dear.
While I was reading it, I groaned so much that anyone sitting nearby may have thought I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I wanted to leave my book on the train tracks for a big locomotive to steam over. Instead, it made it to a train seat instead. Because it sure as hell isn’t going on the bookshelf.
The author, Paula Hawkins, is a former financial journalist, who has written four other novels. Critics fell over themselves to gush about how she picked the mood of readers with this: riding the wave of Gillian Flynn’s smash hit female psychological thriller, Gone Girl.
In the book, she’s puffy, she’s sleep deprived, she’s described as being “plain”, “smelly” and “unattractive”. She’s a bit tubby. She’s divorced and unhinged and obsessive and annoying. And she’s being played by EMILY BLUNT?
But OF COURSE she is, Hollywood.
The book is still on the best-seller lists, guys. And with the movie slated for release later this year, those train wheels will keep turning.
Am I being too hard on it? Did you find any redeeming qualities? Did you love it?
That’s the question we ask this week in book club.
Listen in itunes or here:
Did you read it? Can you defend it? Or was it as bad as I imagined?