Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Women With Issues And The Unstable Men Who Are Involved With Them

Hi Folks, sorry about the spotty posting, so to make it up to you let's get to a rambling shall we?  Today we ramble about one of the books I read while on my epic Texas vacation.  The book is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  I read it for several reasons.  One, the movie is coming out so I had to read it before I go see it.  Two, the synopsis sounded awesome and I was in the mood for a good mystery.  Three, several people I know had read it and liked it.  How do I feel about the book about now that I have read it?  Read on and find out.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
 The book is divided into three voices, Rachel, Megan and Anna.  These three women all have a direct connection to an area around a particular train stop.  Rachel rides the train to London everyday and everyday she passes an are where she can see her old house, complete with her ex-husband, his new wife and their baby daughter.  She also can see the upper porch of another house with a couple that she gives a made up life to.  In her mind, this couple is perfect, they love each other and they have great jobs and deep conversations, essentially everything Rachel wants for her life.  So pretty much Rachel spends her days on this train, passing her old life and fantasizing about others while indulging her alcoholism while pretending to go to work so that the friend she is staying with won't know how messed up her life is.  We learn that Rachel was married to a guy named Tom and that the two of them had been trying to have a baby and when they failed Rachel started to turn to alcohol to alleviate the pain.  Tom meanwhile started an affair with Anna.  After the discovery of the affair, Tom and Rachel divorced and he married Anna and had a baby with her.  Rachel, especially when drinking can't leave it alone and constantly calls and visits her old house and husband.  One day while on the train and watching her fantasy couples house, she is shocked and appalled to see Megan kissing a guy who is not her husband.  This moment shatters her little fantasy world.  We switch perspectives and learn about Megan and Scott, the couple that Rachel likes to watch.  Megan is a bit of a messed up soul, she loves her husband, but can't help but feel trapped on occasion.  Scott is controlling and is constantly checking up on Megan...which while totally creepy and unacceptable turns out to be a thing 'cause she can't help but cheat when she feels trapped and controlled.   Megan goes to a therapist named Kamal whom helps her start to unravel why she is the way she is.  After failing to seduce him, she turns to him as a friend and reveals how after her beloved brother dies she ran away and hooked up with a guy name Mack.  The two of them live a poor, drug and alcohol fueled life until Megan gets pregnant.  She has the baby at their home and does her best.  One night the electricity is turned off and being alone Megan takes the baby and takes a hot bath to try and warm up.  She falls asleep and when she wakes up the baby is dead.  They bury the baby and Mack leaves Megan alone.  Megan eventually tries to get it together and marries Scott.  Back with Rachel, she has a particularly bad day and goes on a drinking binge and ends up waking up covered in blood with a head wound not remembering anything more then snatches of the night before.  She is also horrified to discover that Megan is missing.  Rachel goes a bit crazy and contacts the police about the guy she saw on the roof with Megan earlier.  She also goes to Scott with the information.  Her and Scott start a bit of a weird and twisted sort of kind of but not really a relationship.  Meanwhile we get a glimpse of Anna and how her relationship with Tom started.  We find that after the affair and the subsequent marriage and baby, Anna is now feeling a little stuck.  She is also increasingly worried about the frequency of calls and visits from the usually intoxicated Rachel, especially to her husband.  She begs Tom to convince Rachel to quit, he promises to, but the harassment continues.  Rachel spends more time around Scott and his house, which puts her near her old house, which continues to freak Anna out.  Rachel continues to try and recover her memories of the night she was black out drunk and starts to uncover some disturbing things about her previous relationship with Tom.  After an episode with Scott where he gets violent and locks her in the room after learning she lied about her relationship to Mlegan, Rachel tries to get sober.  After a whole lot of seriously messed up stuff all things are finally revealed.  Rachel realizes that the night of her black out she saw Megan get in a car with her ex-husband Tom.  It comes out that Megan was pregnant before she died and that the baby was not Scott's.  After putting it all together Rachel goes to Anna to share that she thinks Megan and Tom were having an affair and that she thinks Tom killed Megan.  Anna has already pretty much come to the same conclusion after finding some things in her husbands gym bag.  Tom comes home and we find that he had actually been abusing Rachel any time she was drunk when they were still married and then twisted it until Rachel blamed herself.  There is an intense struggle and Tom ends up dead.  The whole sordid story comes out and everybody is left to try their best to pick up the pieces.
World Building - The world in which this story takes place is pretty small.  The vast majority is in the small suburban area around the Witney train stop outside of modern times London.  The smallness of the world contributes to the claustrophobic interweirdness of the story (totally a word a swear it is).  It is very detailed for all it's smallness and I felt like I could probably walk this little neighborhood in my sleep and the train was it's own perfect world.  It's a great example of how you don't need to be sweeping and epic to create a complete world.

Story - Ok here is where my opinion is going to start to diverge from other peoples.  I thought the story was kind of trite.  There was nothing really new or exciting, it was another one of those hey a bunch of messed up people making poor decisions do messed up things to other messed up people which results in all kinds of messed up ness...maybe that should have been the title of this post.  I was kind of disappointed I wanted it to be so much more atmospheric and a lot less tawdry and voyeuristic.  That being said it was a complete story that was woven together to make sense, which is better then a lot of these stories do so that was good.

Characters - Again here is a category where I am torn.  The characters where well written, but I hated almost all of them...not to the level of Gone Girl, but seriously.  These are people who are the root of their own problems, they are selfish and self centered.  They make horrible decisions and refuse to grow up and take responsibility for themselves.  They are fairly realistic characters...which may be why some people enjoy reading about them.  I know a lot of people like this in real life and even more that get shoved down our throats through various forms of media.  I just usually read to try and escape so reading about shitty characters who get into their own messes then bitch and whine about them just don't appeal to me.

Editing - For the most part the editing was pretty good.  The story was readable and everything ended up making sense in the end.  My only real complaint would be the dragging out of certain secrets a bit to try and make the story more of a thriller then it really was.  There were several secrets that got revealed through out the book, but no major twist so to me the term thriller is used loosely hear, but over all it was solid editing.

Relationships - The book for me was mostly about relationships.  Relationships between husbands and wives, men and women, women and women, people and alcohol, characters and memories.  Everything about this book was fueled by relationships, both real and perceived. Unfortunately most of the relationships in this book are at best unhealthy and at worst harmful.  The story was a picture of how people get trapped in bad head states and ensuing bad decisions that come from it.  There was very little in this book that hinted that these characters were even capable of attempting to have good relationships and that was just really really sad.

Mystery - The central mystery for the whole book is what happened to Megan.  I figured out who killed her as soon as I read about her sleeping with the "mysterious family man".  This was disappointing as I felt it was telegraphed pretty early in the book.  I wanted that mystery to be more...mysterious or at least not so blatant and trite...I think I may be spoiled.

Genre - I love a good mystery and thriller, but I am coming to the understanding that I should probably not read whatever genre this book is in.  It's very specific one...it's like chic lit plus mystery, plus really messed up characters.  Almost all the books I have read in this weird category just pretty much make me mad at the authors.  The funny thing most of them are fairly well written...I just hate the depressing out look on humanity that this style of books tend to have.

Overall Impression - So yeah...this wasn't really my style.  It was an ok story, but I just really really hate reading books that make me hate humanity as a whole.  I realize people are messed up in real life, I understand unlikable characters in books to further the story and add depth, but I don't want to finish a book and feel worse then when I started.  I give this book 5 out of 10 cans of gin and tonic and realize that I need to just not read these books so yeah...Happy Reading Everybody!

No comments:

Post a Comment