3.5 stars

A chance meeting on a flight to Japan brings Andy MacKinnon in contact with a handsome stranger…yep, I know you’re probably thinking exactly the same as I was… that old chestnut! But having been calmed by the soothing touch of his unfamiliar travelling companion, what should have been an uneventful flight eventually turned into something a tad more memorable but now Andy is back in Japan and facing returning to work and it is all just a fabulous memory…or is it? Because settling in at home in his apartment, he soon learns that what happens in the air doesn’t always stay there because his new roommate is none other than his handsome travelling companion.

So, at this point I was beginning to wonder what the twist was going to be, what was going to set this book apart and if I am being honest I think the only thing I could find was the setting. Had the book not played so heavily on it setting I think I may have laid it aside but I liked the fact that the author had obviously done his homework when it came to Japan and its culture and customs. The use of elements of the Japanese language, the illustration of the cultural differences was a clever touch.

Anyway, back to Andy and his mystery man, who we soon learn is named Kenneth, Andy teaches English and Kenneth his new roomie and colleague has just taken up a new position too. I suppose the question really wasn’t if but when they were going to get together, they obviously had chemistry but it wasn’t actually that straight forward. Kenneth was such a nice guy, maybe a little too nice in some respects and Andy well, he was hard work, I was more than a little frustrated with him as he seemed to be trying to keep Kenneth at arms-length much of the time, I got that he had been hurt previously but how on earth did he ever think he would move on when he behaved the way he did… really man, pack in messing about!

I liked that they eventually grew close, that as Kenneth sought out his Japanese family and tried to integrate it brought him and Andy closer together but by the time the book had turned over 50% Andy was back to being a pain in the butt and I have no idea why Kenneth even bothered.

There were some elements of this book that I found pushed buttons that I wasn’t exactly comfortable with – I understand that this is fiction but there were traits in a couple of the characters that really peeved me …I mean what the heck is it with Jeremy? The guy was a slime ball of the highest order. I know having a character that we can all hate is often a good thing, but I was doing perfectly ok with not getting along with Andy…throw Jeremy into the mix and I was almost at breaking point, the guy was a leech. A vicious, vindictive liar who thought nothing of spreading lies and vitriol where ever possible but who knows, perhaps the character was based in reality because the spite certainly gave that impression.

 With the exception of Andy’s best friend, I don’t think I actually liked any of the other characters mentioned in the book, and since it was touch and go with Andy for most of the story, it really was only Kenneth that held my attention.

For a debut novel I think the detail was commendable and the narration was good, I liked the fact that it was told in the first person. The scenes between the main characters were well written but overall I didn’t engage, it is probably just me but there was an undertone that I just didn’t like, elements of deceit where the perpetrators almost revelled in their success and other characterisations that only perpetuated stereotypical views that I found difficult to reconcile.