Thursday, August 25, 2016

61 Books: #39

The project: to read 61 books, of whatever sort—short, long; literature, schlock; prose, poetry: you name it—before December 4, 2016.

The first ten books can be seen here. The second ten are here. Nos. 21–38 are below this post.

39. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (2015) (8/24/16)
I did not intend to read this book, which was compared with Gone Girl—which I did not care for. Gone Girl was clever, sure, and the mystery was compelling enough, with plenty of twists and turns. But the characters! Nothing likable about a single one of them. And the ending was decidedly distasteful, creepy.

But then I saw that The Girl on the Train was on President Obama's summer reading list, and I thought, "He's a smart man. If this appeals to him, I guess I'll give it a shot."

I should have listened to my first instincts.

Apparently I'm not a fan of the unreliable narrator genre. If that's a genre.

The story is simple: a girl on a train likes to watch a particular house along the railway, makes up stories about its occupants. Soon, one of the occupants is reported missing. Turns out the girl on the train used to live down the street. Turns out . . . well, all sorts of truths are revealed, and conclusions leapt at, as the girl inserts herself into the situation. 

Here again, there were some twists, and I liked the way Hawkins played with time and multiple narrators. And fortunately the ending wasn't creepy. But I didn't care about or for any of the characters. Moreover, the notion of lodging unreliability in drunkenness, cheating, and pathological lying—well, that's just plain lazy. At least in Gone Girl the unreliable narrator was wily crazy.

I did read this book compulsively, page-turner like: hoping for redemption more than because I was interested in the resolution, which didn't surprise me. At all. Also to get it over with, so I can move on to a book I feel is worth my time. (Halfway through is too far along to abandon a book.)

I wonder if Mr. Obama will make it all the way through? And whether he will enjoy it. I hope so. I wouldn't want to think he's wasting his time.

1 comment:

  1. Heck no, we don't want our president wasting his precious time! Love that sentiment.