I will start with what I’m sure anyone reading this is wondering. Is the movie better? Yes. Like Jaws, The Silence of the Lambs, and Fight Club the movie is better than the book. First off, Drive is more of a novella than a book. It is written in very short chapters, the characterization and dialogue is spare, and the entire story is very light.
We meet Driver on the floor of a motel bathroom surrounded by dead bodies and trying to motivate to get the hell out despite losing a massive amount of blood after being shot in the arm. The story then flashes back to how he got in this predicament and keeps bouncing all over the place throughout. James Sallis gives the book a noir feeling and the narration is very hard boiled, almost to the point of parody. Driver works as a stunt driver, but after his friend is killed in a botched job he becomes obsessed with tracking down those responsible and murdering everyone in his path.
That was the sorta gist of the movie, but here it is actually just a sub plot. We learn about Driver’s childhood, his teen years, and how he became the way he is. For those that have seen the movie, the revenge/pay back aspects go down differently. Also, there is no romantic angle in the book like in the movie. There is some great dialogue and it is blackly comic at times, but the story has been told a thousand times and there is nothing new here. It’s a fun crime thriller, but don’t expect it to stick with you. I read it a week ago and can’t remember the names of any characters other than Driver.
For fans of the movie it’s worth reading just to get some back story on Driver and the other characters. For everyone else, just watch the brilliant movie. It tells a better story with more style.