Saturday, October 17, 2015

The #MINI Book Review: The Girl on the Train

There is a trick to reviewing a book. The trick is this: don't lose sight of the forest through the trees. It's hard to do, I have to admit, but you have to remember that a novel is a story, and while it is intellectually satisfying to judge the plotting and the pacing and the characterization etc, a novel lives and dies by the story it tells. I tell you this because I just finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and there were several times I lost sight of the forest through the trees, several times I forgot that a good story was being told because I was too concerned about flaws in the writing, the multiple Point of View issues, the problems with voice etc. But there is a reason I couldn't do anything (including basic hygiene) except flip the pages as I neared the conclusion: I wanted to get to the end of the story, to see what happened. The Girl on the Train is a good, suspenseful read, and if that is your cup of tea, then click on the link below and get right after it.

The Girl on the Train, Amazon Link

In the interests of fairness and professionalism, I will say that the writing--while not an outright weakness--was not the strength of the book. Having said that, my wife, who bought the book and recommended it to me, said I was being a "nit-picky author" and that the "writing was just fine." The book is told from three points of view, and it was impossible for me to distinguish one POV from the next by the voice of the narrator. And speaking of narrator issues, all three are unreliable; as a reader, I find this to be a bit gimmicky. There is also too much telling in The Girl on the Train, and little showing. I prefer the author show me what she wants me to see, and let me draw my own conclusions, but there is not much of that.

Three stars it is, then, for The Girl on the Train, based on a compelling story told in an intriguing way. As always with the #MINI, I have posted a few other reviews if you are interested:

NYT Book Review:
NPR Book Review

Cheers, peter


Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad. Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of Prose&Consthe literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; a frequent contributor and reviewer at ReadWave; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of two tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill and Fiction Writers. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at