book review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Personally, I found The Girl Before to be more suspenseful than The Girl on the Train (yes, I’m still hung up on how popular that book is).  The Girl Before tells the story of two women living in an rented home.  The home is in a great neighborhood and is cheap, but comes with a long list of odd conditions.  If you’re like me and skip reading the chapter titles, you might get a little confused at first.  It seems like the two women are applying for the same home and there will be some competition between them to get it.  When I looked back at the chapter titles, though, there’s a “Then: Emma” and “Now: Jane” to make it clear that the title refers to Emma and the present is Jane.  This makes it much more clear for the reader, but I still prefer my method of skipping chapter titles and figuring out what is going on as the story unfolds.

The home itself is interesting.  It is stark, but technologically advanced.  Only the essentials are in the home, no pets or children are allowed, no other furnishings are allowed than what is already provided with the house.  The house measures your biometrics to adjust lighting to give you the best night’s sleep, provide you with the perfect shower temperature, etc.  Occasionally, it asks you to complete questionnaires to ensure that it is best meeting your needs.  Some functions (such as hot water) are disabled until the questionnaire is completed.  It is a remarkable house, but it also makes many demands on its owner.

The architect is an unusual man, somewhat shrouded in mystery, with precise, exacting demands.  He is the one who has the final say in who is allowed to rent the home.  His character reminds me of Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, except that Howard was more likeable.

I’m not going to give away too much of the plot.  Basically, Jane moves into this house after undergoing a miscarriage and tries to figure out what happened to Emma.  As always, it’s the journey that matters and I enjoyed some of the twists and turns in this one.  I thought this book was better than The Girl on the Train.  I particularly liked the idea of the house and the way the author slowly unraveled her characters’ personalities.

I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  This book will be released January 24, 2017.

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book review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I know that there’s been a lot of hype about this book, but I didn’t know exactly what the hype was about because I don’t read reviews until after I’ve read the book myself and have had a chance to form my own opinion.  I’ll be honest, when I finished the book, I didn’t understand what all the commotion was about.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent book, but I didn’t think it was particularly special or outstanding.

The main character, Rachel, is an alcoholic who is close to hitting bottom.  Her husband left her for another woman, she lost her job (for showing up drunk after taking a 3-hour lunch), sometimes she blacks out during her drinking binges, and she sometimes contacts her ex-husband or his new wife when she’s drunk.  She rides the train every day to keep up the pretense that she has a job so that her roommate/landlady won’t be worried about her not having money.  The train ride takes her past her old home, the one she shared with her ex-husband, who is now living there with his new wife and their baby.  A few doors down from her old home lives a couple about whom she has created a fantasy.  She imagines the perfect life and a loving marriage for this couple – the kind of life that she wants to have.

One day, she sees “Jennifer,” the fantasy woman, kissing another man and is shocked.  A while later, “Jennifer,” whose real name is Megan, is reported missing.  Rachel was  around at the time Megan was last seen, but she was drunk and can only remember bits and pieces of what happened.  Rachel contacts the police to tell them about how Megan had been having an affair, but she’s considered an unreliable witness and is told to leave her ex-husband and his new wife alone.  She’s considered a pathetic, lonely, alcoholic stalker.

Rachel herself isn’t sure if she did anything, but she did wake up bloody.  She believes it is because she fell, but she can’t be sure.

I won’t say anymore to avoid any giving away any spoilers.

I got frustrated with Rachel and  I felt sorry for her roommate who showed way more compassion and patience than I would have.  I suppose that’s what people who have alcoholics in their lives deal with.  It’s exhausting and tiresome – and you can’t help them unless they want to be helped.  Unfortunately, in a book, it’s just irritating.  If you want to read a book on alcoholism, read You Owe Yourself a Drunk.  Rachel wasn’t the only character in this book that was disappointing.  I didn’t care for any of them.

I just saw a trailer for the movie last night.  They have Emily Blunt cast as Rachel.  I like Emily Blunt, but I can’t help thinking that this is totally miscast.  Rachel is supposed to be overweight and not very attractive, in other words, NOT Emily Blunt.  I was picturing someone who looked more like the old Melissa McCarthy.  I’ll be skipping the movie.