The Girl on the Train – Apples to Oranges by Jessie Smith
The title of Paula Hawkins’ 2015 book is called the The Girl on the Train and that is misleading, as is everything that happens in this story. There are three main female characters and they all handle the emptiness they feel about their lives in vastly different ways. Rachel self-medicated the pain over the end of her marriage with alcoholism and self-loathing. Megan sought therapy to try to overcome demons from her past and to stop repeating bad patterns. Anna thought selfishness and creating the illusion of the perfect life could make her troubles go away. None of their methods worked. It just made them easy prey for the true enemy in their lives.
The chapters alternate between Rachel, Anna, and Megan’s points of view and the timelines alternate between past and present to give a better glimpse into the live of the murder victim. However, readers will struggle with not trusting the characters. It’s disorienting. It’s frustrating. And you won’t be able to put the book down.
The novel was an instant success and spent 13 weeks in the top position of the New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list. Within a year there was a movie backed by Dreamworks and with a cast that included Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, and Allison Janney.
Which version did I enjoy the best? Drum roll please…. The Book!
There was a problem. I had read the book before I saw the movie so I knew who the killer was before the start of the film and that tainted my opinion. I thought the movie wasn’t hiding the identity of the murderer very well and that it felt obvious. However, I polled my friends and family and for those who saw the movie first, they felt that the movie did a good job with the murder mystery so it was a satisfying ending for them.
The second problem I had with the movie was the portrayal of Megan and her ability to be frequently 100% naked. Megan was more than a beautiful body in the book and Haley Bennett’s amazing portrayal of this tragic character was just as good with her clothes on.
The third problem with the movie is the concept that all characters have to be likeable. Not only did they amplify Megan’s sexiness to seduce the audience, they also made Rachel more palatable. Rachel’s alcoholism had taken a toll on her mind and body. Just when you think she had hit rock bottom, she sank lower. This makes the fact that she is the hero of this story extremely powerful. In the movie, she hovered over the repercussions of her poor choices and glossed over the really low points in her life like having sex with the murder victim’s husband. I thought the movie never wanted the audience to stop rooting for Rachel so they smoothed out her edges. It was a shame but that act solidified my belief that the novel was better.
COMIC CON 2017!
Now I am celebrating that I am one of the lucky few who got tickets to attend the 2017 San Diego Comic Con (https://www.comic-con.org/cci) by comparing a graphic novel versus television show for next month with the selection of Wynonna Earp. This is also timely because the second season premiere is scheduled for June 9, 2017.
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen