Review: Drive – James Sallis

james sallis drive cover

An unnamed Driver recounts a job he undertook while sitting in a motel room. His life and the month’s preceding this botched job cross his mind. Driver lives in Los Angeles and is a stunt driver for the movies, and in his spare time he is a getaway driver. He will give you five minutes of his time, no more, no less, does not carry a gun or participate in the jobs or anything. His only job is to drive, and he does it incredibly well. Moving into a new apartment building, he meets Irena, his neighbour, and he falls for her and adores her son, Benicio. Her husband, Standard, is in prison, though he is soon to be released. The two have an odd relationship. When he is released, Irena swears he will not come to stay with her and Benicio, but relents when he turns up anyway. They are certainly not together anymore. Driver is close with Irena and Benicio, and Standard is not getting in the way of it. He respects that Driver and Irena have something on, and tells him to look after his wife and son.

Driver and Standard work some jobs together, where Standard hits a place down for cash, and Driver does what he does back. He works a few movie jobs, too, supplementing his income nicely. However, one day a job goes wrong, and Standard is killed in the heist. Blanche, their accomplice, makes it out with the money, though she is murdered at the motel they were hiding out at. Driver knows that they were set up, and manages to kill the two men that came after them. Taking the money, Driver gets out, gets to his personal doctor and gets sorted out. Driver is in the business of stunt driving due to his friend and mentor Shannon, who has been in the business for ages. However, an accident shattered his pelvis, and he is no longer the top of his game. Driver ultimately finds out that he has Isaiah Paolozzi’s money after he kills Cook, the man responsible for having set them up. Contacting Isaiah, he makes a deal to return the money provided that that is where everything ends. It is all over between them then. The agreement is made, and Driver honours his side.

Finally in a relationship with Irena and getting their lives sorted and together, Driver is crushed when Irena is gunned down one night, and the police call it a gang slaying. Driver knows better, and dedicates his time to taking a lot of getaway jobs and neglecting the movie business, losing a lot of contacts on the way. Making money is easy, and he is making new and relevant contacts for his cause: revenge. Driver cannot let go of the loss of Irena, or that Isaiah broke his word, and is intent on getting to him, killing all those that surround Isaiah and pose a threat. Driver starts to move in on Isaiah and his men, both annoying the other man and scaring him a little. Isaiah’s partner, Bernie Rose, eventually gets pulled in, and so the games begin.

Will Driver make his point to Isaiah and walk away a free man? Will Isaiah eventually catch the Driver, or will Rose turn out to be a problem? Driver doesn’t even have the money anymore, just memories of his past, where he is from, a slew of dead friends and loved ones, and there is no apparent end in sight. What is going to happen?

GRADE 5I honestly didn’t expect the book to be as brilliant as the movie, but I also didn’t expect it to be so… bland and meh, either. The writing was all over the show, the plot did not progress in a normal way, there were no characters that were even semi-decent, the love story was completely taken out and desecrated, Driver’s character was also just a fail. He was not impressive, he was not mysterious. It surprised me that someone read this and thought “hey, let’s turn this into a movie”. It is not the worst book that you could ever read, but I really feel like I wasted my time with this. I was really disappointed. It was a really fast book to read, but it just meandered and went everywhere and nowhere all at once. It was not a particularly gripping story, either. Also, Driver speaks way too much, completely contradicting earlier statements made about him in the book, which is inconsistent, and I didn’t appreciate that at all. Also, none of the events were really that entertaining, and the whole story lacked a certain finesse, something to make it memorable and amazing. It had all the potential, too, it just never actually reached for the possibilities it could have achieved. It didn’t even try. It also felt a bit rushed and not well rounded off for the most part. Ultimately, do yourself a favour, skip this and just watch the movie.

33 thoughts on “Review: Drive – James Sallis

  1. Most Disappointed SB,

    I’m so sorry – I hate shit like that… what a waste of time. I started reading World War Z a few years ago and hated it so much I couldn’t finish it. Still haven’t seen the movie….




    1. My Dearest SSC,

      Dammit it was terrible! I cannot stress that enough. I loved Max Brooks’s Zombie Survival Guide, I have it here on my shelf haha. But I never actually got around to the book for World War Z. The movie was alright, and apparently nothing like the book at all, so maybe you would like it more?




      1. Warmest SBJB,

        I’ll give it a watch, I am just waiting for it to come around for free 🙂


        Cheap Spock


  2. It’s not often you get a recommendation to skip the book and watch the movie instead so I’m going to give it a miss.


    1. Yeah that almost NEVER happens but I can’t get over how terrible this was. Even if you take out the fact that there is an exceptionally good movie, this is just a mess, everything from the characters, to writing, to the plot. Meh 😦


    1. Not at all. I read a lot of things and extricate them from the movie and only compare them again once I am through. This was just a mess all over the show. I didn’t like his writing style, the plot was very cluttered and disorganised and there was NO character development. It was just so… empty and meaningless. That’s why I was so disappointed. I felt like I had been robbed of my time.

      Have you read this?


      1. I was one of those that thoroughly loved the movie, though I was very late to the party and had never heard about it before. I came across the book and figured I would give it a look see. I couldn’t recommend it with a clear conscience.


  3. A book worse than the movie, eh? That doesn’t happen often! Lol. Too bad! I’ve yet to see Drive, though I do hear many excellent things. Thanks for the tip to stay away from the book! 😉 Now go read something awesome! You’ve earned it!


    1. Yeah that really doesn’t happen often, but this was one of those exceptions. You should go check out the movie, well worth the watch. Why thank you! I am currently on The Silence of the Lambs and it is awesome!


  4. Yeah, I’ll echo Cara’s comment too. I’m blown away by this news, maybe not so much in a good way but rarely do you come across a movie superior to it’s source material of a book. And I would really like to think we live in a world where Drive, the book, is just as good as the movie. I don’t think it would be possible to ask it to be better, as the film took advantage of every one of it’s abilities to reel audiences in. Sight, sound. . .everything except for taste and smell was felt in that movie. It was a true work of art. This news disappoints me, but I guess I’m not too surprised, though I will stay away from the book for now.

    Great read Zoe! 🙂


    1. Thanks Tom!

      Yeah it shocked me too. When I realised it was almost nothing like the movie, I read it as its own concept, not tying it back to anything until the end. Either way, it did not work. You are right though, the movie just created a masterpiece, it was amazing. Everything came together perfectly.

      Not worth checking out (in my opinion).

      That book you told me to read? Being Written? I can’t find it anywhere here 😦


      1. Yeah I kinda figured you might have some issues with finding it. It’s pretty obscure. Ummm. . . . .I have no idea what other ways you might be able to get it. Via or something?

        If you can’t get a hold of it you’re not missing a major novel or anything but I thought it was pretty cool. 😀

        And as far as Drive, the book, goes, I think I’ll take your advice and stay clear. I trust your opinion on books very very much!!!


      2. Lol I checked on Amazon but they are going to charge me ludicrous amounts to get it and what not.

        Never fear, I will keep my eyes peeled and source it somewhere else eventually. I would like to read it.

        Ah, thank you ever so kindly!


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