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moonlightreader

Moonlight Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Currently reading

The Circular Staircase
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Progress: 40 %
In Siberia
Colin Thubron
Progress: 50/304 pages

Overhyped and Underwhelmed

Dziewczyna z pociągu - Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train is everywhere since its release on January 13, 2015. In slightly more than a month, it has garnered almost 2,000 amazon reviews, the majority of them 4 or 5 stars.

 

I don't know. Maybe I'm hard to please. Maybe I am a pain in the ass. Maybe I read too much and too many of these thrillers that all seem so focused on executing the plot twist that they forget about anything else, including writing a story that I can give a shit about.

 

It was fine. There, I'll say it. It was fine. A typical book written in the early 21st century about a bunch of Londonites with zero to few redeeming qualities. Narrated by three women: an amnesiac drunk, a former mistress turned wife, and a cheater, cheater pumpkin eater, all three of the main characters raised self-indulgent narcissism to an art form. 

 

I seem to be alone in my meh. But I thought that this one was pretty much meh. A perfectly acceptable way to while away a few hours, but overhyped.

 

I also need to add something, which is rapidly becoming a pet peeve of mine. It seems like "unreliable narrator" is all the new rage amongst the NY literati set. Even the NYT, about this book, said:

 

"The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl. . . . [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.”—The New York Times"

 

One would assume, wrongly apparently, that the brainiacs at the NYT would understand the difference between an unreliable narrator and a drunken fool who can't remember where she left her fucking pants.

 

Apparently not. Which brings me to the ranty part of the review, which has nothing to do with Paula Hawkins. But this book does not have an unreliable narrator, at least not the way that I frame that particular narrative device.

 

Unreliable narrator, at least to me, implies that the narrator is intentionally misleading the reader, either because he/she is a liar or because of some sort of serious mental illness that causes the character to not have a grip on reality. Drunk-amnesia isn't unreliable. Rachel was, indeed, a liar and a drunk, but she wasn't an unreliable narrator because she wasn't lying to the reader as part of the narration, she was lying to everyone around her. It takes more than being a liar, liar pants on fire to be an unreliable narrator. There are lots of liars in fiction. There are commensurately fewer unreliable narrators.

 

I don't think it matters with respect to this book. But this basically just bugs me. Plus, I think at this point it is a way to sell books and the term is therefore misused.