Book Review: Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka

“Whether it’s war, genocide, or revisions to the law, in most cases people don’t notice until it’s already happening, and they feel like they would have protested earlier if they only knew.”

Kōtarō Isaka, Bullet Train

Title: Bullet Train
Author: Kōtarō Isaka
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 432 (Paperback)
Published: September 23rd, 2010

My Rating: ★★
Read: 11/6/2022 – 11/9/2022


If you have knowledge of Japanese culture and literature, this is probably an enjoyable book. Unfortunately, I am not all too familiar with these things and found myself lost throughout most of the story.

The plot itself is fairly simple — five assassins on a train and a briefcase. I really couldn’t tell you much more than that. The characters all blended together for me and I could never remember who was who (and I wasn’t invested enough to put a great effort into doing so).

I got more of a heist vibe from this story than a thriller. I think I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if I was better acquainted with Japanese literature. It felt slow yet hectic which was an odd combination, and the names were confusing to me as well. Definitely a situation where the problem is my personal preference rather than the book itself (although I have nothing to compare it to in this genre). If not for this being a book club read, I wouldn’t have bothered to finish it. 

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • There were some quotes I really liked.
  • It was interesting reading about a different culture.

What I didn’t like:

  • I’m sorry but the Thomas and Friends mentions got old really quickly.
  • The pace was surprisingly slow.
  • I found the characters confusing.


This was the November book club read with Book Santas and Lovers on Discord. I don’t have much else to say on this one. It wasn’t for me.

Where to buy the book:

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