I saw the movie last year (highly recommended), then decided to listen to the a-book and see if there were any major differences. Just as with the movie, because of the violence and mature language, I recommend that ages 18 and up listen to the book.
The rather short novel Drive was written by James Sallis in 2005. The audiobook is narrated by Paul Michael Garcia and was released by Blackstone Audio in 2007. It is about 3.5 hours long (the written book is about 170 pages).
Drive begins with a dedication before the actual story begins: "To Ed McBain, Donald Westlake, and Larry Block, three great American writers" and this clues us in to the tone of this story. It's going to be a descriptive crime drama.
The book's main character is an exceptional car driver. By day, he is a film stunt driver. By night, he's a getaway driver for various criminals. Pretty much, all he does is drive. Sometimes the narration is Driver's thinking, other times it is a description of him.
This densely written complex story slowly unfolds out of order and usually through flashbacks. The main character is Driver, who is living in the LA/Hollywood area of California. Although he is never given a name in the book, his foster parents are named Mr. and Mrs. Smith and his mother is named Sandra Dailey. His father is also never named in the story.
As a boy, Driver's father used him to help commit burglaries because of his small size. His mother and father were not close to each other, and one day Driver sees his mother murder his father during a family meal. This leads to Driver being placed into the foster home of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in Tucson, Arizona. It is while in Tucson that Driver discovers his affinity with cars.
Just before his 16th birthday Driver packs up his belongings, takes the family's car, and drives to California in search of his life. He runs low on cash and decides to become a professional driver. He becomes well known for showing up on time and making his remarkable stunts work. He also becomes known for driving getaway cars when he's not working on set.
Driver makes a few friends in California. There is Shannon, the veteran stunt driver who gives Driver his first break into working for films and TV. Manny, a wine-loving screenwriter (he knows the word desuetude) who shares small talk and the occasional meal with Driver. Irina and her son Benicio, neighbors at an apartment complex Driver moves into. And Standard, Irina's husband who returns home from a stint in State Prison for robbery.
"I drive. That's all I do. I don't sit in while you're planning the score or while you're running it down. You tell me where we start, where we're headed, where we'll be going afterwards, what time of day. I don't take part. I don't know anyone. I don't carry weapons. I drive."There are two life-changing robberies, out of many, that Driver provides the exit ride for. In one, he speeds away and they realize that the take amount is way too much money (like a quarter mil too much). The second is after Driver agrees to drive for Standard. A few jobs are carried out without incident, but the final one goes wrong and Driver is forced to make the getaway without Standard in the car.
The mob, who wants the aforesaid take money, identifies Driver and begins to hunt him down. In order to stay alive himself, Driver has to kill the men sent after him and eventually the bosses in charge. In the midst of this, Driver is integrating memories of his past to get a complete picture of what he truly lived through. He is straining to separate reality from imagination, because he was so young when things happened.
The book ends with Driver reflexively getting the jump on the last boss alive, Bernie Rose. As he watches Bernie die, the thought of "grace" comes to his mind. Driver delivers Bernie's body to the ocean, watches it ride out on the tide, and then drives off under the moonlight, mourning Bernie's death and heading into the next phase of his life.
Find The Book
The audiobook is available for purchase or credits from Audible.com and other vendors. It can be rented from SimplyAudioBooks.com. And you can use the WorldCat Locator to find a local library that has the CD.
Like many movies from books, the movie version of Drive is not an exact copy of the book. Driver's backstory of his parents, his adoptive parents, and his leaving for California is not part of the movie. The movie is more about his exploits after Driver has settled into his professional driving life and meets his neighbor Irina (called Irene and romanticized in the movie).
The movie is highly recommended for the acting, directing, production, and soundtrack. It is sure to become a niche classic.