ARC Review: The people on platform 5, by Clare Pooley

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published in the USA as Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting.

Publisher: Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Release date: 26th May 2022

Pages: 368

Representation:  LGBTQIA+(Sapphic), British Indian. 

Trigger warnings: Mention of suicide, dementia. 

Summary: Iona gets the same train every day, and every day on the commute, she sees the same people. As per the unspoken carriage rules, Iona has never spoken to any of them; Instead, she watches and judges. When one of her fellow passengers nearly dies, the rules break down, and it leads Iona to challenge her preconceived notions and allow herself into a world of friendship she didn’t know could exist.

Purchase the book using the following links to support Indie bookshops, and me:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The people on platform 5 is a first class journey.

It’s challenging to write about a character-driven book without spoiling the story because the characters are the story. 

The People on platform 5 is a feel-good, once-in-a-lifetime story. It creates a heartwarming feeling that you’ll be longing to replicate for weeks after you’ve closed this book. 

Focusing primarily on Iona, Clare introduces us to a cast of characters that feel more like friends than anything else. We’re welcomed with open arms, and with every page, we read about them, we get to love them more. The character development had me hating a character initially and loving him in the end. It was superb. 

The plot was subtle but moved forward at a pleasant pace. It gave me just enough to keep me wanting more, like dangling a steak in front of a dog. I couldn’t wait to keep reading. I wanted to know what would happen to these new friends because it was impossible to not care about them.

I didn’t feel overwhelmed with information. Every change in POV gave us a new puzzle piece of the story but never felt forced. I actively looked forward to each new chapter and POV change, which is a first for me; usually, I’m not too fond of multiple POVs. I especially enjoyed the fact that throughout the book, all of the POVs referenced each other in creative ways; one character would do something and hope no one noticed, and in the next POV, they talk about the fact that they had seen it. 

There is one more thing I have to mention: Iona. Iona was a character unlike any I’ve seen before. She’s strong, passionate, unique and not ashamed to own up to her mistakes. She’s unapologetic in herself and knows to stand up for what’s right. She actively tries to make the world a better place and has no internal battle whether to help or not. She is, ultimately, good. She is good, and she is herself. It’s something so simple but often so neglected, and I won’t lie when I say that since finishing this book, I have thought about Iona every day. 

If there’s one thing to take away from this book, it’s that we can all Be More Iona#bemoreiona

Shining glory: The Characterisations were incredible. We got to know the characters, and it was hard not to love them, even those we disliked initially. Our perceptions of them changed whilst Ionas also changed.

Fatal flaw: This book has no traditional flaws, but one key thing may be an issue; It’s tailored towards a British Audience. Non-British audiences may struggle to understand all the references or even the very British train etiquette rules the book uses as its premise. 

Read this if: You love character-driven stories. You want an easy, feel-good read with loveable characters. 

Skip this if: You don’t like single-location plots, the book equivalent of TV’ bottle episodes. You prefer plot-driven books, as opposed to character-driven ones. You don’t like books with multiple POVs. 

Purchase the book using the following links to support Indie bookshops, and me:


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