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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

I Ranked Paula Hawkins' Thrillers (Author of The Girl on the Train)

*This ranking does not include the novella Blind Spot, only full length novels.
*This blog includes trigger warnings. I don't consider them spoiler warnings but if you do then proceed with caution.

1. The Girl on the Train
What the Book is About:
Rachel commutes on the same train every day. She becomes almost obsessed with a couple whose house the train passes and invents an entire life for them. Then one day she sees something suspicious.
My Review:
None of the characters in this novel could necessarily be called good people though they all have something that makes them sympathetic. They are all complicated and I was never quite sure which ones of them I should trust (which is a good thing when it comes to a mystery). Rachel herself is an unreliable narrator which I love to see in this genre. There are lots of scenes which are tense and even frustrating. I didn't see the reveal coming until right before it actually happened. It was never someone I suspected but who, in hindsight, made sense, which made it all the better. The novel is told in very short, almost choppy snippets with the day and time of day indicated each time. This was actually nice because it meant if I only had a short period of time to read I could quickly come to a stopping point. I also think this book has some very good commentary on the dangers of parasocial relationships that I haven't read before. This book is well worth its hype it's received.
Trigger Warnings: alcoholism, child neglect, emotional and physical abuse, infertility, and gaslighting.
Final Rating: 5⭐️ 2. Into the Water
What the Book is About:
A single mother and a teenage girl both turn up dead in a river. Their deaths bring the dead woman’s sister, Jules, back to the town that haunts her.
My Review:
There are a LOT of characters and it took me a while to really grasp who everyone was in relation to one another. Despite this there is really only one character who I could foresee removing without consequence. Everyone else had an important role to play and was well utilized. I've also come to recently discover that I like small town mysteries for all the sticky webs and dark secret among this seemingly tight knit community.
The pacing was superb. Every time I thought I had figured something out or there was a reveal something would happen that would change the story's trajectory. It really kept me guessing until the very last page and that's the kind of thing that keeps readers reading. One thing I would change about the writing, though, is cutting down the number of POV characters.
Trigger Warnings: fat shaming, sexual assault, suicide
Final Rating: 4⭐️

3. A Slow Fire Burning
What the Book is About:
A young man is murdered on a houseboat and three women are suspects. There’s Laura, the volatile one night stand. Then there’s his nosy neighbor Miriam, and finally there’s his aunt Carla with whom he had a strange relationship,
My Review:
Much like Into the Water the mystery of this story is continuously growing deeper and more twisted. There is a good slow reveal of how all the characters are related/connected to each other and the murder. It’s Hawkins choice to parcel out these revelations that once again kept me hooked. I was suspicious of all of the characters due to their motives and behaviors and wasn’t able to figure out who had truly done it. No matter how much satisfaction I gain from solving a mystery it will never equal the suspense of the times like this when I’m totally clueless.
The reading experience can be a tad disjointed because the story vacillates between the present and past and back without any real transitions. I suspect this is to mirror the book within the book written by one of the characters, but it doesn’t add and actually detracts from the book.
This novel is incredibly, incredibly dark and at times depressing and disturbing. I won’t lie, there were times I had trouble reading this book and considered putting it down because of how triggering it was.
Trigger Warnings: death of a child, incest, panic attacks, animal cruelty, suicide, alcoholism
Final Rating: 3.75⭐️
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