Tag Archives: thriller

The Girl on the Train

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This book is plastered liberally all over the London Underground network, so it’s difficult to avoid. Well, not the book itself, but advertisements for it. That’s how I found Apple Tree Yard last year, incidentally, which I was a little disappointed. Plus, when I was home in Ireland last week, my good friend gave me a copy as a birthday present. After a three-hour delay in the airport on the way back to London, I raced through this book, which probably could be well described as an if-you-liked-Gone-Girl,-try-this-type psychological thriller.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

I started this book on Sunday night, I think, and had it finished by the time I was getting on the tube on Monday evening. That’s due in large part to the fact that I spent four hours sitting in an airport doing nothing (high winds…!! /shake fist) but also because it was thoroughly enjoyable and engaging.
There are three female narrators in this book – Rachel, an overweight, unemployed alcoholic who’s struggling to get through life; Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, who is living the perfect life in Rachel’s old home; and Megan/Jess, one half of the perfect couple who keeps Rachel sane on her daily train journey into London, pretending to go to work so her flatmate doesn’t realise that she’s lost her job.

This book has a lot of the hallmarks of Gone Girl and Apple Tree Yard – female characters who aren’t upstanding model citizens with infinite sex appeal, but rather real and relatable women who are as flawed and interesting (and, sometimes, hate-worthy) as the male characters in other books, who are three-dimensional and sometimes incredibly frustrating. As well as that, this book is a good example of unreliable narration and it’s littered with unsavoury characters and the sort of dark and twisted plot which really sucked me into Gone Girl, and helped me along with Apple Tree Yard.

I had one major complaint with this book, and it was the fact that I figured out who the main villain was relatively early in the book. But it did throw a few twists in there which put me off the scent for a while. So that pushed it further up in the rankings than it would’ve been if I had remained convinced about the villain for the duration of the book.

This is author Paula Hawkins’s first book, and it’s a really enjoyable one. I got sucked into the world of this murky, twisted web of affairs, lies, and betrayals, and was on edge as I raced through the climax of the book. I’ll definitely be looking out for more offerings from Hawkins, as this was a good example of a psychological thriller with strong, complex characters and that murky kind of motivation which made me love Gone Girl so much.

Four Stars
****

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Book #96 – Lexicon

lexicon-pb-u110I picked this book up, together with The Girl with all the Gifts, a few months ago, and read it while I was home over the summer – the blurb intrigued me so much that day that I bought it, even though I had gone in with the intention of picking up a fantasy book. Still, though, I don’t regret my decision!

Lexicon – Max Barry

 

Sticks and stones break bones.

Words kill.

They recruited Emily from the streets. They said it was because she’s good with words.

They’ll live to regret it.

Wil survived something he shouldn’t have. But he doesn’t remember it.

Now they’re after him and he doesn’t know why.

There’s a word, they say. It shouldn’t have got out. But it did.

And they want it back…

I knew very little about this book before I went into it. I saw it in the shop, I picked it up, I read it a few weeks later. I found the premise hugely original – the idea that words could be used like a sort of hypnosis, taking the art of coercion to new levels.

Lexicon was the sort of book which unfolds as you read it, with nothing being revealed until it has to be. There were a few little twists which I saw coming, and others which I didn’t – the best kind of book, I think.
Lexicon was at once both a sweeping examination of the human condition and a smaller love story, entwined together, jumping between time spans and sweeping me up into the story of the master word, what it did, and how much people were willing to do to get to it.
I devoured this book in only two days, and would happily recommend it.

Four stars
****

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Book #74 – The Girl with all the Gifts

17235026Sinéad and I have a system, since we live in different countries – if we see a book we think the other might like, or which we find interesting, we text a picture of it. This was one of those books (she sent it to me), and after checking it out, I agreed, so I picked it up a few weeks ago, and read it not long after.

It’s entirely different to what I thought it would be, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fiercely engrossing and interesting book, which I devoured in about two days.

The Girl with all the Gifts – M.R. Carey

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

As you can see, the blurb gives away precisely nothing. I really enjoyed going into this book knowing very little, so I’m not going to put too much information in this review, as I think it would do potential readers a disservice.

So, while giving as little away as possible, I loved this book. I loved the gradual reveal of who and what Melanie is. I loved her relationship with Miss Justineau, and with the other supporting characters.

I thought the premise of the book was fiercely interesting, the worldbuilding solid and believable, the characterisation and character development strong. The book kept me interested the entire way through, and I thought the conclusion was achingly brilliant.

I also found, online, a secret chapter, which elaborates a little on what happened after the end of the book. I think it would have been better served by including it in the book, though, as it added a little more depth to the conclusion.

There. That’s it, that’s all I’m gonna say about this book. I fiercely enjoyed it, although at times I was a little frustrated with it. Not enough to do any major damage to my enjoyment though, leaving me with a solid desire to recommend the book to others and a hope that M.R. Carey writes more, which I will assuredly pick up.

 

Four Stars
****

 

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Gone Girl

gone-girlAwh man. Awh man. THIS BOOK.

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

I was recommended this book a few weeks ago by Dave. He knows I read a lot, although I’m sure he despairs of the majority of awful YA fiction I read, but generally I’ll take any recommendation from him quite seriously. Except the Time Traveller’s Wife. THAT BOOK. I have many ranty feelings about it. That’s a post for another day.

Anyways. Gone Girl.
Amy and Nick are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. It’s the morning of. Pancakes are made. Loving greetings exchanged. Presents are being wrapped, dinner reservations made, and when Nick comes home from work, he finds Amy… not there.

As the police investigate, it becomes clear that Nick is hiding something – lying, evading questions, acting inappropriately and certainly marital relations were at an all time low. Interspersed with excerpts from his missing wife’s diary, it becomes clear that things are not how they seem. But is he a killer?

Well, this is the question which the book throws at you. But it’s not the only question. There are approximately a million more. And then some more after that. And the book flies through twists and turns and punches and holds nothing back so that reading it is an exercise in containing your shouted reactions, because the people on the train would look at you funny.

The best word I can come up with to describe this book is twisty. It’s dark, and it’s twisted, and the story is twisted, and the plot flies through a myriad of twists until you don’t know what’s up and what’s down and what’s true and what’s false any more.

It is incredible. It is a masterpiece. I’ve already gotten Flynn’s other two novels, and I’m hoping they’re just as good.

FIVE STARS. MAYBE EVEN SIX.
*****(*)

Thoroughly recommended. You should definitely read this book.
Also, I’m now re-evaluating all of my relationships, friends and family to wonder if I know them as well as I think I do. That is what this book did to me!

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Truly, Madly, Deadly

Once again, a book recommended by Sinéad, I started Truly, Madly, Deadly one night at about eleven, and finished it that morning at about three.

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

The tagline on this book reads ‘She thought it was an accident. She was wrong’.

Basically, Sawyer Dodd, all-around amazing girl with the all-around amazing boyfriend, has suffered a tragic loss. Her all-star boyfriend Kevin has just been killed in a single car drink-driving accident.

Devastated by the loss, naturally, she can’t help but feel a little relieved because, you see, Kevin was not as wholesome as he appeared.
But when a note appears in Sawyer’s locker with a newspaper clipping and the message ‘you’re welcome’, well. That’s when things get spooky.

Because, you see, someone is now following Sawyer’s movements, and it seems she can do nothing without being seen. And when more inexplicable ‘things’ start happening, paranoia naturally sets in.

Is it the lonely guy? The police officer? The principal? The friendly transfer student?

Sawyer doesn’t know. And neither do we. But I sure enjoyed finding out. This book crashed through high-octane stalking and wound up in a thrilling finish that left me a little shell-shocked and thoroughly satisfied.

Of course, with mysteries like this, you can’t give too much away, so I’ll just say read it. It’s definitely worth the time.

I’m sure I had some complaints, but I can’t remember them right now.
I’ll give it four stars, anyways.
****

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