Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka is a novel set in modern Japan revolving around, well, assassins. It’s billed as a quirky and fun read but I was left fairly underwhelmed. With so much hype surrounding the author’s previous novel, Bullet Train, which sees it getting turned into a major motion picture movie, I had high hopes for Three Assassins. I haven’t read Bullet Train so Three Assassins would be my first from this author. While not necessarily a bad novel, I just felt something was missing. The novel and story just felt a bit empty as it didn’t really evoke any sort of reaction or emotion out of me. With such a weird bunch of cast members, I had looked forward to something out of the ordinary.
“How old does someone have to be for it to be okay to kill them?” - Cicada
Suzuki is dubbed an ordinary man on a mission. A man that is bent on revenge and will do nearly anything to ensure he gets it. The problem is, the story here just doesn’t seem to match the pace of what I had expected as it feels very slow-paced and clogged. As for the other three assassins, it gets only slightly better. One is a knife expert who also takes on jobs that most other assassins refuse to take. I had expected Cicada to be the one to spice things up but it seems his grudge with his handler and trying to be free is all he ever cared about. Then we have The Whale who specializes in forcing people to commit suicide upon meeting him. I can imagine doing the same because he’s also boring. The paranormal angle did little to change my mind. Then we have The Pusher. To sum him up, boring.
“That’s why I’m gonna fly. Dying is just incidental.” - Iwanishi
In the end, Three Assassins feels extremely cliche. The author introduces some elements here and there to not make it feel too generic but I don’t think it succeeded. The story and characters are completely forgettable. I did like the ending though so that should count for something. Count me out on reading Bullet Train. I’m sure the movie adaptation will be a lot better.