Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Drive

This entry is part 46 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

It’s been two months since I flew off on my holiday. Six weeks since I came back.

You know the holiday I mean. The one where I promised to reboot my reading and writing efforts. Get back that motivation (or drive, wink face) I lost at the turn of the year.

Two months later, it’s still working. I’m racing through books. Tearing through at least two a week and, come the book I finished this morning, I’m on two three-book weeks in a row.

I’m proud of myself and know you’re proud of me or not proud of me as well. That’s cool.

But as they say, with every silver lining, so there must be a cloud, or what is that silver lining?

With me, the cloud is not so bad, but still frustrating. As of this morning, there are four books I have finished but am yet to review.

It’s at times like this review writing becomes more difficult.

I have to try and remember Drive for what Drive was. I can’t get it mixed up with books on writing, Eminem and football manager. Such mistakes could be fatal, or at least make me look quite silly.

Still, one mustn’t complain. I don’t want to slow down on the reading front so I will plough on. Sooner or later hitting another series and at that point, I will be able to catch up with my blog writing.

Until then, let’s get into it.


I’ve had this slip of a book a fair while. Acquiring it when everyone else did – right after the film came out.

That means I’ve had the book around seven years at the time of writing. Far from the longest standing member of my shelf, but a fair old time. I’ve completed two years of uni and left four jobs since getting it, to put that into some kind of perspective.

Another one that slid between the cracks. I plucked it up and read the first few pages once, but something about it put me off. Not sure what. Could have been the way it slips backwards and forwards in time. Such confusion I could not take.

I’ve also never seen the film.

But, now came Man vs Bookshelf and no longer could I throw around excuses. It was time to pick up the book and finish it, no matter what.

The Story…

Was confusing.

I’m still not sure I know what happens. It jumps backwards and forwards in time. Introduces us to snaps of different events that are never mentioned again. Same goes for characters. They come, they go, they disappear.

The plot around which the book centres I don’t get. Somehow the lead character (known only as Driver) was set up on a job, leading to him almost losing his life.

How the job was set up, I’m not sure. Whatever happens, it sets up the main plot. Putting Driver on a revenge mission, taking out all those involved in wronging him. Like a horror movie serial killer.

So if there was a story, I didn’t get it, and it sure was over quick. There wasn’t a whole heap of development in any of the plotlines. Things happened so Driver could go around killing people. Or that was how it seemed.

In all, this book was not about its story, I don’t think. It was more about…

The Flow…

Which was very good.

I know I talk about pace a lot. All the bloody time, you might say. But pace is a large part of what makes a story work or not. If the pacing isn’t right in a novel it’ll feel slow and dragging. It becomes bogged down and difficult to traverse.

No one wants that.

Sallis (the author) pitches Drive is as a fast-paced thriller, and nails it. Character and plot development are cast aside for a forward motion so fast it is almost dizzying.

I may have found it confusing, and lacking plot, but I didn’t find that to be too much of a downside.

Given some of the heavy books I’ve read recently, it was great to read one that slid by so easy. Not that I would want to read too many books like this in a row. For one, though, it was great to sit back, relax, and let this Driver character drag me through.

The pace of this story is its biggest strong point.


I mention there isn’t much character development, and that’s true.

Plenty of characters have bit parts in this novel but I can’t recall many of them now.

Driver is more fleshed out. His past and character exposed well within the narrative device.

While the mixed timelines could be confusing, Sallis uses them to great effect to keep the pace up.

Driver’s rampage against his wrongdoers intersperses with snapshots from his past. Short chapters that don’t drag the pace of the plot down. That adds to our character’s development.

Reacher Syndrome

One problem I did have with our hero is the same as I had with Jack Reacher.

Reacher goes up against plenty of foes and no one ever seems to trouble him. There is no fighting. Jack comes up, kills everyone, and walks away.

As a narrative device, this is a little frustrating. We want to see our protagonist challenged. We want to see him pushed to the point of near defeat.

Imagine James Bond if he was never captured? The bit where the baddy gets hold of him and almost defeats him is a key feature of any book or film. Without bringing him close to defeat, his eventual victory would not be as sweet.

Driver has the same issue. He goes up against these people who have wronged him and he kills them. No trouble at all. Even the kingpin of a crime group he takes out at the gangsters home, no trouble.

I wanted to see him fight. See him almost beaten, but that never happened.

That was a little disappointing.

Sum Up

This was a great book. It was fast paced and well written. Most characters were mere sketches, but this felt intentional. Sallis nailed the characterisation of Driver.

I’d recommend anyone read it. But it’s not worth repeat reads, and you wouldn’t want to read too many books like it in a row.

Next Time

Next time we are diving back into the world of books on writing.

My only experience with such a book so far in this challenge was not a good one – I was beyond scathing.

This time, though, I have higher hopes.

It’s the well respected Story.

See you for that.

Series Navigation<< Man vs Bookshelf: Forever YoungMan vs Bookshelf: Story >>
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International worst-selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). An author of mystery and suspense novels including the James Perry Series of mysteries.

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