So at the beginning of the year I mentioned I wanted to read 60 books and I’m slowly moving towards that goal! Since I’ve been pretty busy lately, reading a physical book has been a bit hard for me and I thought it was time for me to try something new: audiobooks.
I’d tried Playaways, which are like audiobooks except it’s a little device you connect headphones to. It was an okay experience, but it sometimes required me to buy batteries and (more importantly) remembering to carry the device. I also borrowed them at the library (which I’ve stopped doing because I get lazy, don’t return stuff, and get $100 fines, Ouch). Overall, while convenient to listen to, it had more cons considering my habits.
But recently my brother has been listening to a lot of audiobooks via Audible and I figured I’d try it. It worked on my phone, something I already carried around all the time. I could listen out loud if I forgot my headphones or even connect to my car’s Bluetooth. And overall, it was just more convenient.
So convenient that I just finished my first audiobook two days ago!
I’d heard about The Girl on the Train a year or so ago. A lot of people liked it and the summary was interesting enough (so I bought it). However, because I’m not used to audiobooks, I also went ahead and bought a physical copy of the book and followed along when I could.
In general, this genre doesn’t really appeal to me. I like my stuff to have some sort of magical element and The Girl on the Train had none of that. So why read it? Because the story reminded me of Gone Girl and I really enjoyed that book!
As the story begins, we’re introduced to Rachel who has pretty much ruined her life. She was divorced because her ex-husband couldn’t take her depressive, insecure, and explosive behavior. She inhaled alcohol like we breathe air, she lost her job, and she could never remember what happened when she was drunk (luckily, her ex was nice enough to tell her about the terrible things she did). Her life practically revolves around lies she told to others and herself. If I met Rachel in real life, I probably wouldn’t want to be associated with her, but as a character she was very interesting.
On her train rides to nowhere she would look out a window and see “Jess” and “Jason” who are complete strangers but she constructs a whole story for them: how they’re perfect for each other, that they’re beautiful, and that they had the perfect marriage. She feels that she knows them, so when “Jess” goes missing and “Jason” is suspected for murder, she decides it’s up to her to clear things up. After all, she’d been at the scene of the crime when “Jess” disappeared.
Of course, considering her habits and past behaviour, the police scratch her off as an unreliable witness.
We’re also introduced to characters like Tom (ex-husband), Ana (new wife), Megan (“Jess”), and Scott (“Jason”). The story is actually told from the POV of Rachel, Ana, and Megan.
During Megan’s POV we learn that she’s FAR from perfect. She has issues of her own that are slowly unearthed as she goes to therapy, and it’s not just the reader who gets bombarded with this information but the other characters and her grieving husband. Ana also has a couple chapters in her POV, but they weren’t as interesting. I felt they were mostly there to make Rachel out to be a worse person than she was.
The story mainly followed Rachel, as she tried to help out in the case (even though everyone told her to stop), and Megan, as we learn what she was up to before her disappearance. It was very date focused as every chapter mentioned what day and time of day it was. Since I was listening to audio, I had to go back a couple times to remember what the chronology was.
I really enjoyed how broken all the characters were. Even the sanest ones had their own issues and insecurities. At moments I felt it was too exaggerated because how can so many people with messed up lives be together? But at the same time it just made sense and the way they all interacted with each other was interesting and just painful to listen to (as there was a lot of physical and emotional abuse that was thought to be “normal”)
However, as interesting as it was I had a nagging question throughout the whole story: why was Rachel doing this? Why was she going out of her way to “help” people who constantly told her to go away, to help a person who clearly frightened her, to investigate on her own? Even after finishing it I’m not too sure. I think perhaps she was just lonely and needed some kind of purpose in life, to feel important. Leaving this unanswered for the longest time is probably why I felt slightly detached from the story. If Rachel had been a friend of Megan’s (like she claimed) or had the desire to actually help, I’d feel differently. At least then, her actions would make more sense to me.
In the end everything was cleared up but at the cost of many peoples’ lives (in a sense). The way it was cleared up was pretty anticlimactic but it wasn’t bad.
Overall I did enjoy the story enough to give it a 4/5 on Goodreads. It really emphasized people’s flaws and selfish desires, and even though our characters matured with the experience, they didn’t suddenly turn into good sumerians. They continued to make mistakes, regret, and be human.
In terms of audio (since this IS an audiobook), I really enjoyed our narrator for Rachel, Clare Corbett. She had a distinct voice for all the characters, the emotions were great, and the speed was just perfect for a suspense novel. When listening to her I had little trouble keeping up with who was saying what. Megan’s narrator, Louise Brealey, fit her character. She had that young, in the moment, and “bored with life” vibe that Megan exuded. While her narration wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good either. I liked her for Megan but I had some trouble realizing when other characters were talking since the voice wouldn’t change as much (the exception being Abdic, that was great).
And lastly, Ana’s narrator was India Fisher. Honestly, I really disliked this narrator. There was something dead and monotone about her. It wasn’t really what I imagined Ana to sound like and disliking the narrator also made me really hate her. I often found myself rolling my eyes or clenching my teeth when it was her chapter (LOL). All of Fisher’s characters also sounded the same to me, and at times I had trouble figuring out when a sentence ended and another began.
Other than that, I really enjoyed the narration!