I have to begin by saying that this book does not live up to its reputation. It’s supposed to be a phenomenal global bestseller but for me it was nothing more than a really boring read. I hate to have to say this about books, particularly because I have had to spend my own money buying them and it’s such a waste when you don’t really like the book afterwards. But this was honestly such a disappointing read! It was very predictable and very drawn out. The plot itself had so much potential, but it’s execution unfortunately really let the novel down.
I just didn’t believe in the story. I had no emotional connection to Scott, Megan, Tom or Anna. I only felt connected to Rachel and the majority of that connection was based on pity. She’s an alcoholic who was forced to divorce from her husband and move out of the family home they bought together because he was cheating on her with another woman. Then to make matters even worse, he married the other woman, had a child with her and then continued to live with her in the house he bought with his ex-wife. Think that’s as bad as it gets? It isn’t. Rachel was infertile. She had struggled to conceive naturally in her marriage and tried IVF and failed.
Rachel is a really well-developed character! But her development has already taken place when the novel begins and during the course of the novel, she doesn’t develop any further. I actually think this would have been a better story if we went back ten years or so and Paula Hawkins told the story of Rachel’s marriage, divorce and drinking problems instead.
The final twist just doesn’t quite work for me. The fact that it was Tom who was seeing Megan all along. Tom who killed her, impulsively, after she responded badly to him asking her to abort their illegitimate child. And then it is finally Rachel and Anna who kill Tom. Paula Hawkins tries to lead us away from the obvious, by complicating the situation with Kamal Abdic (Megan’s therapist) as a suspect and later Megan’s own husband Scott as a suspect. She also includes the little backstory of Megan “accidentally” drowning a baby in a bath tub because she fell asleep (okay then) when she was much younger.
But there really is just too much going on here. There are too many messed up characters doing messed up things and the novel would have worked better overall if Paula Hawkins had been more strategic in her plot choices. Tom has cheated on both Rachel and Anna. Tom has been involved with Rachel, Anna and Megan. Rachel has been cosying up to Scott whilst trying to find purpose in life through trying to solve the mystery of Megan’s murder. Rachel and Scott have slept together. Scott is then violent towards Rachel when she finds out she has been lying to him. And then Rachel and her arch enemy Anna are finally united by their shared betrayal by Tom, so they kill him together. Multiple novels could have been written using these characters, it didn’t all need to be squashed uncomfortably into one!
By the end of the novel I didn’t even care who was dead and who did it. I just wanted to be done with it all.