Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review is 18 months late. So don’t read it. Just go read the book. I gave it three stars, but then I’m picky. You might like it. I’ll tell you this: if you’re going to hate it, you’ll figure that out in the beginning before you’ve invested too much time.

At least, that’s the way I remember it. It’s not the sort of book I tend to pick up, but I like to read the books my wife listens to on tape. (We still call them books on “tape,” even though they’re downloads straight to her iPhone, blue-toothed through her car speakers on the way to work).

Which leads one to the topic of “women’s” lit versus literature in general, this idea that there are books that “women” read. Yeah yeah, the man writing this review said sardonically. The thing is, I think there’s more women getting published these days, and there’s more women buying books too, which might just be just the way the dice roll these days. My point is, you don’t have to be a woman to get into The Girl on the Train.

I mean, this is no Lee Child, no Tom Clancy. But it’s not Catherine Coulter or J.D. Robb either. Even if the marketing people at Massively Profitable Publishing like to spin them all that way. But you, you’re a discerning reader, you don’t judge books by their covers, or the shelves they sit on, or the company they’re forced to keep.

(Full disclosure: I’ve never read Coulter or Robb. But I’ve met them. Literally shaken their hands. These are a couple if really smart people. And I know more than one person who loves their stuff, and these, too, are discerning readers who don’t put up with bad writing. My point is to denigrate the marketers, not the authors).

The Girl on the Train will get you through a plane ride, or a few hours on a balcony at your hotel, or a lazy weekend when there’s no good games on the TV. There’s a twist ending, which you’ll see coming from a mile away, and there’s a few women’s issues themes that are very trendy to write about these days. So it’s not breaking new ground, but so what. Books don’t have to be brilliant to be good reads.

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