August 9, 2017

[Review] The Driver - Hart Hanson

Summary: Michael Skellig is a limo driver waiting for his client in the alley behind an upscale hotel. He’s spent the past twenty-eight hours ferrying around Bismarck Avila, a celebrity skateboard mogul who isn’t going home any time soon. Suddenly the wind begins to speak to Skellig in the guttural accent of the Chechen torturer he shot through the eye in Yemen a decade ago: Troubletroubletrouble. Skellig has heard these warnings before—he’s an Army Special Forces sergeant whose limo company is staffed by a ragtag band of wounded veterans, including his Afghan interpreter—and he knows to listen carefully.

Skellig runs inside just in time to save Avila from two gunmen but too late for one of Avila’s bodyguards—and wakes up hours later in the hospital, the only person of interest in custody for the murder. Complicating matters further is the appearance of Detective Delilah Groopman of the LAPD, gorgeous and brash, for whom Skellig has always held a candle. As for Avila? He’s willing to help clear Skellig’s name under one peculiar condition: that Skellig become Avila’s personal chauffeur. A cushy gig for any driver, except for the fact that someone is clearly trying to kill Avila, and Skellig is literally the only person sitting between Avila and a bullet to the head.
(Pub Date: Aug 8, 2017)

Review based on an ARC provided by Penguin's First to Read program. Many thanks to the publisher for giving me this opportunity.

This is a book I had problems measuring how much I liked but it's undeniable that I liked it. So let's call it a 3.5.

Skellig is veteran and now a limo driver who is forced to work for a skater celebrity, whose life he had just saved. However, danger is not over and Skellig has just gotten himself in a mess so big even his friends could be in danger.

This is an action-filled thriller narrated in first person by Skellig, who also tends to speak to the reader. I'm not sure I can call it a different style but it surely isn't conventional. It has its cons, though. I think Skellig is a character who would work much better on a screen, he has this attitude and he loves trying to evade by being funny, except his jokes aren't funny, not even to the characters in the book. I'm sure that would be great on a TV, when you're able to see the face he's making at that moment. In fact, most of the funny scenes would have been funnier if played by an actor, so I think I'd watch a live action of this book.

Now, as a book, it also is quite enjoyable. Even though I'd frown most of the time to Skellig's attitude, it got to a point I'd giggle just because he was doing it again. I definitely can't complain about him being out of character.

As for the plot, we have some mystery but the plot twists aren't strong. I think this is more the type of story for you to enjoy as it happens instead of feeling excited about what hasn't yet. Just sit and enjoy, I'd say.

The really big flaw is the romance. I wasn't even expecting any to happen but as it did I need to mention this: what the hell? Actually, I was generous calling it romance. Skellig's love(?) life so erratic I'm glad the author didn't place any bets on that. One page he was head over heels and even heartbroken about Connie the lawyer, and then he'd be thinking again and going after Delilah the detective... All that in a weird, borderline-bipolar manner. I think Hanson was going for a love triangle because, in theory, there was lots of potential. He failed. I wish those parts were just erased from the story, they were just too weird.

I almost forgot to mention but Hanson was obviously worried about diversity. I won't got in details but he's got almost all here. Immigrants, people with disability, homosexuals and, of course, women. I view this positively, despite the main guy still being a white American man, so I think those more knowledgeable in this could raise concerns. For me, I say, "yay!"

This got longer than I had foreseen but summing up, it was a nice book. I don't usually read book written by men, action, book starred by men... there was a handful of stuff here that could have made me stay away, and I'm glad they didn't. I had a great time, and I hope to read Hanson's next work soon. I wonder if this will be made into a series? The story was pretty much closed but I feel there's a chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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