This is a review of The Girl on the Train by author Ethan Holmes.
I rarely drop a book in mid-read and yet I find myself doing this multiple times during the past year or two. I bought the book as an author who is trying to determine what the ‘audience’ out there wants, basically, what makes a best seller.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins now joins my growing list of disappointments along side Fifty Shades of Crap and John Lescroart’s Plague of Secrets as books I cannot comprehend reaching the lofty heights of publication and notoriety they have attained.
Disappointment doesn’t cover it. Add in four cups of frustration, one cup of confounded, three tablespoons of astonishment, a dash of puzzlement and at least a dash of anger and you have the perfect recipe for an author who still does not know what the reading public wants or why they seem to want the trash that is making millionaires out of people who can’t write.
I was forty pages into The Girl on the Train and I could find no vestige of a plot. What I did find was the constant, incessant ramblings of a psychotic woman who was constantly watching trains, riding trains or drinking on the train. The only concrete characteristic is that she is an alcoholic. In truth, it felt as though I had inadvertently stumbled across the diary of a twenty year old whack job. I wasn’t supposed to be reading it and I didn’t want to read it after the first seven pages, and yet I plodded onward.
It didn’t get much better and I held little hope that it would. That is not a pleasant way to enjoy one’s precious reading time. I asked my editor about this book and she confirmed my increasing disappointment by informing me that she ‘could not finish it’.
When I began writing seriously with foolish thoughts of becoming a rich, famous author, one of the most important things I learned about novel writing was that it was necessary to capture the attention of the reader quickly. This book fails miserably and it stills fails miserably fifty pages in.
I also learned another frustrating fact or two while researching this ‘best seller’. The author pitched the book while it was only half finished, a big alleged no-no in this business. I would like to talk to whoever read the first half of The Girl on the Train manuscript and then sent this woman money. I think the main character was not the only one drinking that day.
The other bit of news was that this book somehow became a movie. That is where an author makes the real money in this business, movie rights. Apparently from the reviews, the movie is as bad as the book. What’s puzzling and mind-numbing frustrating to me is that it is no longer important to be a writer who writes well, (a goal I always had from the beginning). You just have to write the flavor of trash the buying public wants and hope they make a movie out of it.
The long and short of it is that I could have written a two sentence review of this book. It would read as follows. “I purchased this book at Costco for $9.99 plus tax. I would like to return to Costco and ask for $9.79 back….plus tax.
Ethan Holmes is the author of six books, including the highly relevant most recent release,
Get your free copy of Ethan Holmes’ collection of short stories, Shorts and Other Laundry by clicking the book cover below.