I love discovering new books - and sniffling around (preferably English) bookstores is one of my favorite things to do. I have read many bestsellers and most of them I've loved - some of them I've hated. I've recently finished two famous bestsellers and oh my - when I started reading both books I didn't expect my opinion to be so surprising afterwards.
The Girl On The Train - Paula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? (from Goodreads)
I thought I'd love this book - I really did. It sounded like a very Sjoukje-book: some sensation as if it were an ordinary thriller, some personality as if it were a regular novel. One of the three main characters, Rachel, was one of the most depressing fictional characters I've ever encountered. 'I should stop drinking alcohol. But I can't. Okay, I'll stop. *24 hours pass* - I can't not drink. I must drink. *falls into a deep and black hole of depressing thoughts, passing them onto the reader*.
I literally can't name one part of this book I liked. It was very slow as in not too much happened - very hard to get into, extremely depressing to read, and - I won't spoil it to those who have the book lying on their nightstand, fresh and smelling of new books - the ending was so unrealistic it was predictable.
There are so many people who loved this book, but I'm not one of them. I feel like if you're a person who usually reads thrillers (think of authors like Karin Slaughter, Jens Lapidus, Stieg Larsson) this book will feel odd to you, out of place. However, if you've never read a decent thriller, I think you won't notice the feeling I had when reading this. My expectations were too high.
Us - David Nicholls
‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’
‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’
Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.
So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.
The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.
What could possibly go wrong? (from Goodreads)
This was another book I expected to love - and after reading it, I realized I adored it. I'd been eyeing this book at Waterstone's for quite a while when I decided to finally buy a new physical and 'real' book and I couldn't have made a better decision. I am looking for words to describe this book and the book cover calls this book 'a sad, funny, soulful joy' and these are the exact words I would've used, had I been able to find them.
The protagonist, Douglas Petersen, is a very intelligent man. Connie (his wife), is a typical creative and outgoing woman and the child they created is a teenage boy who isn't very interested in his father, but adores his mother. This frustrates Douglas Peterson, and I feel like how harder he tries, the less it works. This was so frustrating to read, because as a reader you know how much Douglas loves his family, how hard he tries - and how they turn their backs on them. This is the 'sad' part.
The word 'funny' is such a good describing word because David Nicholls has such an interesting choice of words for every sentence he creates. The situations he sketches are so unique, and even though they are surprising I didn't think of them as predictable. 'Soulful' perfectly describes the book because I found the book so relatable - and even though I am not a father in my 50s, I could so feel every emotion he had, every frustration he encountered and every bit of love he felt for his family.
When an author manages to do that - to make you feel like the protagonist, to make you laugh out loud even though you're on a crowded train, to get so mad at Connie for not understanding Douglas - that is when you know you've picked out the right book for you.
When I finished reading this book (after sitting for a few minutes, being sad about the fact that I'd read the last page) I got on my bike and immediately cycled to Waterstone's to get another book written by David Nicholls: One Day. I'm currently reading this and if this book surprises me in such a way that both 'The Girl On The Train' and 'Us' did (negatively and positively respectively), I'm sure to let you guys know.
To summarize this article that became longer than I expected it to be: I wouldn't recommend 'The Girl On The Train' but 'Us' is an absolute must-read.
If you've read one of these books - make sure to let me know what you thought. If you have a book recommendation for me based on this dislike and like, make sure to leave a little comment as well!