The Girl on the Train: A Compelling Thriller

As a book lover, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting reads. One book that caught my attention was “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. This psychological thriller was published in 2015 and quickly became a bestseller, with over 20 million copies sold worldwide. In this article, I will be sharing my review of “The Girl on the Train,” covering its plot, characters, writing style, movie adaptation, criticisms, and more.

Plot summary of “The Girl on the Train”

The story of “The Girl on the Train” centers around Rachel Watson, a divorced alcoholic who takes the same train to work every day. During her daily commute, Rachel becomes obsessed with a couple she has been watching from the train. She imagines their perfect life, until the day she witnesses something shocking and goes to the police.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about Rachel’s past, her failed marriage, and her struggles with alcoholism. We also meet the couple Rachel had been watching, Megan and Scott Hipwell, as well as Megan’s therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic. The plot is full of twists and turns, as we try to uncover the truth about what happened to Megan and who is responsible.

Analysis of the main characters

One of the strengths of “The Girl on the Train” is its well-developed characters. Rachel, Megan, and Anna, the ex-wife of Rachel’s ex-husband, are the three main female characters in the book. Each of them is flawed, complex, and relatable in their own way.

Rachel is a troubled character, struggling with addiction and a failed marriage. Her obsession with Megan and Scott’s relationship leads her down a dangerous path, and she becomes an unreliable narrator.

Megan, on the other hand, is a woman with a troubled past, trying to find her place in the world. Anna, the third woman in the story, is the new wife of Rachel’s ex-husband, and her character is driven by jealousy and insecurity.

The male characters in the story are also well-written, including Scott, Megan’s husband, who seems to have a dark secret, and Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband, who is manipulative and controlling. Dr. Kamal Abdic, Megan’s therapist, is also an interesting character, as we learn more about his relationship with Megan and his own secrets.

Writing style and language used in “The Girl on the Train”

Paula Hawkins’ writing style is engaging and suspenseful, which makes “The Girl on the Train” a page-turner. The story is told from the perspectives of Rachel, Megan, and Anna, which adds depth and complexity to the plot. The language used in the book is simple and easy to follow, making it accessible to a wide audience.

One of the interesting aspects of the writing style is how the author uses the train as a metaphor for Rachel’s life. The train represents her inability to move on from her past and her desire to escape her problems. The repetitive nature of the train journey also adds to the feeling of monotony and stagnation that Rachel experiences.

Comparison to the movie adaptation

In 2016, “The Girl on the Train” was adapted into a movie starring Emily Blunt as Rachel Watson. While the movie follows the same basic plot as the book, there are some significant differences. One of the biggest changes is the location, with the movie set in New York instead of London.

Overall, the movie received mixed reviews, with some critics praising Emily Blunt’s performance, while others felt that the adaptation failed to capture the suspense and complexity of the book. Personally, I enjoyed the movie, but I felt that it lacked the depth and nuance of the book.

Criticisms and controversies surrounding “The Girl on the Train”

While “The Girl on the Train” was a commercial success, it also received its fair share of criticism. Some readers felt that the plot was predictable and the characters were one-dimensional. Others felt that the portrayal of alcoholism was unrealistic and stigmatizing.

There was also some controversy surrounding the racial and cultural representation in the book, with some critics arguing that the portrayal of Dr. Kamal Abdic perpetuated harmful stereotypes about Muslim men.

Reception and popularity of “The Girl on the Train”

Despite the criticisms, “The Girl on the Train” was a commercial success, selling over 20 million copies worldwide. The book also received several awards, including the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Mystery & Thriller in 2015.

The popularity of the book can be attributed to its gripping plot, well-developed characters, and suspenseful writing style. The book has been translated into over 40 languages and has been adapted into a movie and a stage play.

Personal rating and recommendation of “The Girl on the Train”

Overall, I would give “The Girl on the Train” a 4 out of 5 rating. While the book has some flaws, such as the predictable plot and the problematic representation of alcoholism, it is still a gripping and suspenseful read. The well-developed characters and engaging writing style make it a page-turner, and the twists and turns of the plot keep you guessing until the end.

If you enjoy psychological thrillers and suspenseful reads, I would definitely recommend “The Girl on the Train.” It is a perfect book to read on a long train journey, or when you want to escape into a thrilling world of mystery and intrigue.

Similar books to “The Girl on the Train”

If you enjoyed “The Girl on the Train,” here are some other books that you might enjoy:

  • “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
  • “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides
  • “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn
  • “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena
  • “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty


In conclusion, “The Girl on the Train” is a gripping and suspenseful psychological thriller that is definitely worth reading. While it has its flaws, such as the predictable plot and the problematic representation of alcoholism, it is still a page-turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The well-developed characters and engaging writing style make it a standout in the genre, and its popularity is a testament to its appeal. I would definitely recommend “The Girl on the Train” to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or psychological thriller.

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