Most suspense thrillers have the reader following the P.O.V. of the killer or victim or investigators of the crime (disappearance, murder, attacks, etc.). This novel is unique in that the story is told by a barely functioning alcoholic girl who is trying to figure out what to do with her life, if she should even try to dry out, but who happens to see something that only in her every day commute and imaginings on a train is out of the ordinary. Consequently, it is this couple of minutes that puts her in the side lines of a criminal mystery and by her own sheer will she weaves in and out of the mystery of what happened to the girl she had been watching from the train. The reader gets to try to figure out what happened based on the little access that's available to this character through her insertion into the investigation (and you kinda want to smack her half the time for running headlong into it), watching the media, and her drunken memories and imaginings.
The thing I appreciated about this novel is it toggles between three women telling you bits of the story- always their morning and their evenings of various days. All three women are very different and at different places in life but are all connected by one street of houses near the train tracks. The author has a great talent for her characters and I think the breaks between them, for me at least, was brilliant because if the story was solely told by one I would have issues wanting to finish the story.
I started the novel with the general assumption that the focus and end goal is more of the “whodunit” and unraveling the mystery with “the girl on the train” and her half hazard investigation into what happened to Megan. However, having finished reading this novel I feel like the main goal is not even the story of what happened to Megan but how to redeem the main story teller- the girl on the train- Rachel. If I were to reread this novel a second time knowing this, I think I would read the book completely different and potentially try to enjoy or connect with the characters more. As it was, it was difficult for me to do that due to personality flaws that are turnoffs to me on a personal level, especially the uber narcissistic personalities. With that in mind, the author did a great job with her novel and creating a uniquely plotted out story with characters you have an emotional response to while getting into the action of the story.
As an avid reader who likes to think who she might recommend books to, I would definitely recommend this book (as so many others already do) to friends who enjoyed Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (as well as her other novels) and/or Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.