Heck of a thrill ride!
Bullet Train is exactly what people mean when they say they like something but can freely admit it’s not for everyone. Personally, I thought this book was a fantastic, ridiculous adventure, but I can immediately understand why people may not enjoy it as much as I.
The plot of Bullet Train is easy to follow at first. Several assassins are hired in order to board a train in Japan. Each assassin has been given instructions: obtain the briefcase and get it back to your handler. What the assassins do not realize, at least at first, is that they’re all looking for the same item and have no idea the others are on the train.
The strength of this book lies in its incredibly quirky and over-the-top characters. Most have fake names such as Lemon and Tangerine, Hornet, The Pusher, and so on. I actually found it pretty simple to follow as the characters have very specific personality traits, so it was easy to pay attention to who was the main focus of each chapter.
This book is not in any way afraid of killing off characters and discussing the violent natures in which they die. Do not go into this book expecting to fall in love with any of the murderous characters, as they’re all clearly not good people. Some have reasons for why they kill for a living that are well-reasoned and understandable, and some are sociopaths who simply want to revel in chaos. There’s a character named The Prince that is incredibly spine-tingling for reasons I will not spoil here.
My only criticism of this novel is that it’s a bit long and probably could have been cut down by 30-50 pages in the middle. This would be difficult as there are 5 or 6 characters who offer their perspectives throughout, but it still felt as though it dragged a bit. There is a great twist in the last quarter of the book that had me jumping out of my chair with excitement and interest, and that alone was worth the price of admission for me.
I am interested in seeing how they adapt this to an (extremely white) movie as so much of the book is tied to Japan. It feels so perfectly made for Japan, I don’t know how I feel about Brad Pitt and a bunch of other non-Asian actors taking the main roles, but I supposed that remains to be seen. I was partial to Tangerine and Lemon as well as the Kimura family, so I hope they are done justice in the adaptation.
This is a great book for anyone who loves a good thriller and isn’t turned off by violence. I would recommend this specifically to someone who enjoys Quentin Tarantino films as they have a lot of similar aspects. A fun, albeit ridiculous, romp that entirely held my attention for a few hours.
Title: Bullet Train
Author: Kotaro Isaka
Three Descriptors: Compelling, Suspenseful, Fast-Paced
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