The Girl on the Train, the debut novel by Paula Hawkins, just hit shelves on Tuesday, but the psychological thriller is already causing buzz. In addition to being one of the most anticipated new novels of 2015, the hot-button work was pre-emptively acquired by DreamWorks for a future film adaptation, factors that have already caused some to dub The Girl on the Train as the next Gone Girl.
The book chronicles the story of Rachel, a woman who takes the same commuter train every morning, passing the same houses and making the same stops on a daily basis. The stop at one particular junction gives her daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple eating breakfast on their deck. After seeing them so many times, Rachel starts to feel like she knows them and even dubs them “Jess and Jason.” But one day, while the train moves quickly by, she witnesses something shocking that makes her realize the couple’s life may not be as idyllic as she thought. Unable to keep what she saw to herself, she offers up what she knows to the police and ends up becoming inextricably involved in the subsequent events and lives of everyone connected.
Hawkins has written fiction under a pseudonym, but The Girl on the Train is the first book she’s released under her own name, as well as her first mystery novel. The just-released book has quickly become a hit with critics, who have praised it for its “surprise-packed narratives” and the “exciting momentum” of its dark and inventive storyline.
Several reviewers have also drawn comparisons between the suspense novel and Gillian Flynn’s 2012 bestseller and recent box office hit, Gone Girl. It’s not hard to see why. With a twisty storyline involving unreliable narrators, unfaithful spouses, and not-so-little lies, The Girl on the Train has many of the same gripping elements of Gone Girl, although Hawkins herself says the novel is more Hitchcockian than anything else.
“It’s flattering to be compared to Gone Girl because I think Gone Girl is a great book. I actually think that atmosphere of the book is closer to Hitchcock,” she told Time. “But I suppose both books have a very flawed female protagonist at their heart and are women who maybe are not what they seem.”
It’s these factors that will likely help make the story just as compelling on the big screen. The forthcoming film adaptation was secured by DreamWorks and Marc Platt Productions in March, almost a year before the book’s publication. Unlike in the case of Gone Girl, the screenplay won’t be penned by the author herself, but by Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary). Per Deadline, Wilson, who also recently co-wrote Men, Women And Children with director Jason Reitman, is already close to completing her first draft, although there’s no word on when the studio is aiming to get the film out.
While it’s unclear how long it will be before we see the movie, dark psychological thrillers like both Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train are clearly having a moment in Hollywood right now. Given the positive critical response to the novel already, The Girl on the Train could be on the verge of becoming a big hit, both in print and on the big screen.