'The Girl on the Train': Is it the next 'Gone Girl'?

Like Gillian Flynn's bestseller 'Gone Girl,' 'Train' features a troubled marriage and an unreliable narrator. But the book is also an impressive debut on its own merits.

'The Girl on the Train' is by Paula Hawkins.

Given the number of titles that are declared to be “the next” of a bestseller (“the next ‘Fault in Our Stars,’” “the next ‘Wild,’” and of course “the next ‘Harry Potter’”), book fans have every right to be wary.

But Paula Hawkins’ novel “The Girl on the Train” just might have earned the title of “the next ‘Gone Girl.’” 

With the massive sales and critical success of Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl” and its critically acclaimed movie adaptation (which may receive some Oscar nods soon), any book would want to receive that particular praise. Critics point to the unreliable narrator device in “The Girl on the Train” and its exploration of marriage as making the upcoming novel a worthy heir to Flynn’s book.

The novel follows Rachel, a divorced woman who frequently sees a couple eating breakfast in their apartment as she passes by on the train. When the wife disappears, Rachel herself becomes a suspect after her ex-husband’s new wife says she was seen near the couple’s apartment when the wife went missing.

New York Times writer Janet Maslin addressed the “Gone Girl” comparison at the beginning of her review of “The Girl on the Train.”

“’The Girl on the Train’ has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since ‘Gone Girl,’” Maslin wrote. “’The Girl on the Train’ has ‘Gone Girl’-type fun with unreliable spouses, too. Its author, Paula Hawkins, isn’t as clever or swift as Gillian Flynn, the author of ‘Gone Girl,’ but she’s no slouch when it comes to trickery or malice. So ‘The Girl on the Train’ is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership too.”

And Bustle writer Caroline Goldstein said that she’s “calling it now: The Girl on the Train is the next Gone Girl. Paula Hawkins’ highly anticipated debut novel is a dark, gripping thriller with the shocking ending you crave in a noir-ish mystery. 

Meanwhile, USA Today writer Jocelyn McClurg called Hawkins is “the new voice for the new year everyone’s buzzing about” and Book Report Network president Carol Fitzgerald told McClurg that the book is “perfect for ‘Gone Girl’ readers.”

The Guardian selected "The Girl on the Train" for inclusion in its “essential literary calendar” for 2015.

“The Gone Girl title-a-likes just keep coming,” Guardian staff noted. “But the toxic relationship this girl has with alcohol marks out an impressive thriller debut.” 

“The Girl on the Train” will be released on Jan. 13.

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