Strangers on the 16:02 is from a collection of ‘Quick Reads’ which have been written by authors and celebrities for World Book Day to give people something fast to read on the bus or train. Something that people can fit in with their daily lives so they can no longer complain that they don’t have time to read.
I fancied a quick read myself today and the premise of this book sounded quite interesting. I bought the ebook for £2.09 and decided to read it in honour of World Book Day.
I’m not used to short stories or novellas so I’m not really sure what to expect of them. I’m used to reading books that are at least three hundred pages long and I think I prefer books that are long enough to get your teeth into. However, I can appreciate that it takes some skill to write a story with a beginning, middle and an end whilst at the same time creating well believable and real feeling characters.
I think that Strangers on the 16:02 is a nice little story to read when you’re on a bus or train, strapped for time or just fancy something to slip in-between other reads. It would probably be even better if read on a train – rather then sitting down in your living room!
I thought the story itself lacked originality – strangers meeting in crowded public transport, going against the norms where people never really talk or look at each other – where people look away and mind their own business no matter what’s going on. Despite this lacking in my view, it’s the sort of setting that always has an appeal because I think we would all like to think that we’re not one of those people who would just stare out of the window.
There were a couple of other small little niggles – my personal distaste for similes where everything is ‘like’ something else or it was ‘as if’ comparisons. I understand that this is probably a more economical way to produce fast and effective imagery in a short story so perhaps I’m being a little too judgemental. Another niggle was that the style of writing felt flat and generic. However I don’t think any of these personal niggles really effected my overall enjoyment of the story.
It did feel a little predictable – from the way it was written to the ending. The way you are introduced to each character on the train and then you go back to earlier in the day, or the week to see who they are on a normal day.
The ending holds no surprises or twists, but it still leaves you thinking and hopefully it will leave you thinking differently and challenge you to perhaps take a look up from your newspaper when you’re on a train next time and look around at your fellow passengers.
I haven’t read any of the other Quick Reads but I’m quite curious now whether I should because this one hasn’t put me off short stories – if anything I’m feeling a little bit more curious about them.