Sent to me by Doubleday (Penguin) in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 24/08/17
Publisher: Doubleday (Penguin)
Format: Hardback, 288pp
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Summed up in a word: Loyalty
Welcome to my stop on the Last Stop Tokyo Blog Tour! Thank you for stopping by. I have read quite a few psychological thrillers in 2017 so far, I can’t seem to get enough of them! Last Stop Tokyo stood out to me because of its distant setting and interesting premise. The idea that rock bottom is not the lowest you can go definitely caught my eye. This is a novel about trouble, danger, escalation and suffering. Alex and Naoki are both hiding from their pasts, that is what makes them a good pairing. But when one of them wants more and the understanding is broken, no one can control the consequences. Great read for 2017. Highly recommended. Full review below. Please check out the other amazing blogs on the tour, information below.
The funny thing with suffering is just when you think you’ve suffered enough, you realise it’s only the beginning.
Alex thought running away would make everything better. Six thousand miles from the mistakes he’s made and the people he’s hurt, Tokyo seems like the perfect escape. A new life, a new Alex.
The bright lights and dark corners of this alien and fascinating city intoxicate him, and he finds himself transfixed by this country, which feels like a puzzle that no one can quite explain. And when Alex meets the enigmatic and alluring Naoko, the peace he sought slips ever further from his grasp.
After all, trust is just betrayal waiting to happen and Alex is about to find out that there’s no such thing as rock bottom. There’s always the chance it’ll get worse…
Alex has fled to Tokyo to outrun the destruction of his life. Thinking of the furthest place from London, Tokyo seemed to be the perfect fit. The story starts off with Alex settled in and (secretly) dating his friend Hiro’s sister Naoki. Naoki has a turbulent past of her own and the couple have agreed not to discuss the details. After an argument about Alex’s past, Naoki breaks it off with him. Both of them want the relationship to suceed but they both refuse to reveal their failures.
Alex decides to test Naoki’s loyalty and ambushes her at a high profile event to talk about the future of their relationship. The night takes an even sourer turn when a colleague of Naoki’s decides to use the resulting argument to further her own position by sabotaging Naoki’s reputation. The argument resumes in private and turns into a fight which turns violent and the police are called. Alex is arrested and Naoki has a decision to make, tell the truth that he is innocent or lie and protect her reputation. Her decision puts Alex behind bars in a Japanese prison and no one can stop the resulting carnage.
I was genuinely on edge reading this story. When I started reading I was contemplating how bad their destructive relationship could get. My theory wasn’t even close! Buckler’s writing was superb, with a perfect clash of Japanese and British culture being the backdrop to a story of secrecy, self importance, pride and nasty consequences. Last Stop Tokyo is a truly immersive psychological thiller.
I liked Alex, trying to make it on his own after losing everything he worked hard for. Finding out his story through flashbacks made his treatment at the hands of Naoki even harder to digest. But when he is backed into a corner, he is a fighter at heart. Naoki was an interesting character too, I have very little knowledge about Japanese culture and mentality and it was intriguing to learn how much more invested in order and reputation they are compared to us Brits.
Last Stop Tokyo is many things and it encompasses a lot of themes that we all deal with day to day. From passion and betrayal to violence and hard choices. The atmosphere in this novel was constantly evolving with the tide of their relationship and personal choices. I recommend LST to all thriller readers who enjoy a story that is fast paced, uncontrollable and ends with an electrifying bang.
About James Buckler
James Buckler grew up in the South West of England and currently lives in London though he has lived in America and Japan, where he worked as an English teacher. He studied Film at the University of Westminster and worked in film & TV for many years, most notably as a post-production specialist for MTV and BBC Films. Last Stop Tokyo is his debut novel.