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 listened to this audiobook back in February, after listening to The Stand by Stephen King. I decided that listening to this book was probably going to be better than reading it; after listening to a sample, I knew it was the right decision!
The narrators for Rachel and Megan did a fantastic job of the perspective they represented – Rachel was my favourite in particular. So as not to spoil anything, I will be vague and say that they each have a uniqueness about them… an experience or two that has coloured their view of the world, or changed them. The voices, tones and expressions used embodied these characters perfectly and brought them to life.
That probably sounds daft – “you can’t hear expressions!” I hear you say! Having dabbled a little in Performing Arts and created a radio drama as one of my projects, I actually think you can. It is impossible to express joy or sadness with a neutral expression on your face. You can still call me daft if you like – I’m sticking to my guns.
In fact, being entirely dependent on audio to convey these things, I think it is even more important to do this well. The narrator for Anna didn’t really do it for me at all. I found myself wishing her chapters passed quickly. Her narration felt clinical and disassociated with her character, which for me broke the flow.
I struggled to relate to Rachel, but so do a lot of characters in the book, so perhaps as a reader, we are not meant to. Her perception and her actions more often than not leave you shaking your head in disbelief, or cringing on her behalf. Plenty of the latter! Her life is the type that you can observe at a distance and determine what has gone wrong, but you find it hard to imagine yourself in the same shoes if you were to experience the very same thing. I would like to think I wouldn’t, at least…
Whilst the story itself had plenty of twists, turns and unexpected surprises, I think I would have gotten bored reading the book. Whilst I was listening to this I was completing a project, so I was always concentrating on something else at the same time. I think that kept me going. It had a great ending (loved the ending) but I think I would have struggled to get past the many embarrassments of Rachel to read this… especially since it takes really good while to get to the point where the plot starts to unravel.
I have mixed feelings about the book and if I am honest, I don’t really see why the book had as much fuss as it did. That being said, crime/psychological thriller isn’t my favourite genre, so maybe that’s why I don’t appreciate it hugely. I find myself on the fence about it really – I don’t think it is all that often I write a review from such a mediocre standpoint.
I am glad I have listened to it, but that is as far as it goes. It is time to move on to something else.