Every day Rachel Watson takes the same commuter train into London. Every day she watches the houses roll by, some more familiar than others. Among them is the home of “Jason and Jess”, a beautiful young couple that Rachel likes to believe are the happiest and most perfect couple in the world. That is until she sees something that shatters her fantasy. Then something terrible happens. Rachel can’t think what else to do but bring what she saw that day on the train to the police. But they won’t believe her. No one will.
I feel like I can’t go anywhere without seeing The Girl on the Train. But it wasn’t until it won Audiobook of the Year that my interest was piqued. Thrillers aren’t really “my thing”, but audiobooks are! I turned, once again, to my trusted OverDrive app and downloaded the eAudiobook onto my phone. This story is told from the perspective of three different, but interconnected women. Rachel is our main narrator. She is obsessed with her ex-husband and his new wife. Their house is one of the ones she passes on her daily train ride, forcing her to relive the misery of her divorce every day. Rachel is also an alcoholic. And a very unlikable character. I did not like Rachel at all, and I don’t think I was meant to. It does bring up the larger question of whether or not you can still enjoy a story if you don’t like the main character. It turns out, you can. Or, at least, I can. I was hooked from the very beginning. I was so drawn into Rachel’s dark, twisted, and obsessive world that I could not stop listening. It felt a bit like, forgive the pun, watching a train wreck. I wanted to look away and yet I could not avert my eyes- which is a sign of good writing in my opinion. I would give the story itself 3 out 5 stars. I was engaged entirely from start to finish but I just couldn’t get over what awful people most of the characters were. Rachel is not the only unlikable one in the bunch. Make no mistake- they are supposed to be awful, the author has created them just so. As a reader I look for redemption and though there was little for Rachel, in the end, it just wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me. The audiobook, however, I would give a full 5 stars. Each narrator was played by a different voice actress who really brought each of the characters to life. For me, the audio version really made this story come alive and turned it into the thriller it ought to be. I have spoken with many who simply could not put The Girl on the Train down and that was definitely my experience while listening. If you are looking for a suspenseful story that will draw you and keep your attention, and you don’t mind that it gets a little dark, this is definitely the story for you. The unreliable narrators are really what make this story unique. If your interest in stories with unreliable and unlikable characters is piqued here are some suggestions for what else to pick up:
Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson
Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning the man she has woken up with must explain to her that he is Ben and he is her husband, that she is forty-seven years old, and that a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories. Every day Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.
Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? What if the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story?
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a young adult novel that tells the story of Cadence Sinclair. Every year the wealthy, beautiful, seemingly perfect Sinclair family spends the summer on their private island. From the outside, they are perfect. Until one summer granddaughter Cadence is found on the shore of the beach, dressed only in her underwear, with no memory of how she got there. If the reader reviews are any indication, you will either love this book or you will hate it- but such is the appeal of the unreliable narrator.