Last Stop Tokyo by James Buckler
The funny thing with suffering is just when you think you’ve suffered enough, you realize 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 . . .
“Trust is just betrayal waiting to happen”
This really struck me when I read the synopsis and I knew the novel had a theme of betrayal. The theme is very deep and runs throughout the entire novel.
Why do we betray one another and turn on each other?
Alex Mallory is a man with a past, but he won’t tell you all in one, go! His past will slowly unravel and building to the moment you realise why he fled London of bright city lights of Tokyo. At that moment your jaw is likely to be on the floor! Alex’s past is extremely complex, with family feuds, drugs and a fateful accident, which all collide one Christmas day, night!
The novel opens with Alex arriving in Japan having travelled from Thailand. At this point I was slightly confused. This novel has so many twists and turns it was at page 80, I finally had a full grasp of Alex’s predicament. So bear with this novel and it’s conflicting start, because it is so worth it! We learn Alex doesn’t have much in Tokyo, a friend Hiro and a secret girlfriend Naoko. We learn he has lost his career in England and is now working teaching English for a boss he hates. Alex is regarded as a ‘gaijin’ the Japanese term for a foreigner. The Japanese culture, social hierarchy and manners, is fully explored within this novel and makes for absorbing reading! Having never been to Japan, I was eager to absorb as much information as I could.
The novel focuses on the relationships between Alex, Hiro and Naoko. Their unique bonds, differences and secrets from their pasts.
“The past is a dangerous subject” Alex.
It would seem Alex is not the only one with secrets, is Naoko really who she says she is? Why is Hiro so eager to deceive and manipulate the other two? When an argument ensues we the reader are forced to ask, who are Alex and Naoko? Can they survive each other?
This is a novel with strong themes of betrayal and honour. How far would we all go to protect ourselves and our reputation?
“The funny thing with suffering, is just when you think you’ve suffered enough, you realise it’s only just beginning” 4*