Audition is at first a romance. Aoyama, a widower, decides get remarried after many years of being alone and raising his son. His friend comes up with the idea of creating a movie that will probably never be made to host an audition. Then Aoyama can specify what kind of woman he wants and have his choice in that group. It's a bit misogynistic, but sounds like a typical sweet romance set up. Aoyama meets Asami, a former ballerina with a melancholy air about her. They go on a few dates and then she disappears. This is also when the novel descends into madness.
I love Takashi Miike's film adaptation of Audition, so I was really excited when I found out it was finally translated into English. I thought it was interesting that the book excelled where the movie failed and vice versa. In the first fifteen pages in the book, the reader knows more about Aoyama and his family than in the entire movie. Giving Aoyama a realistic background endeared him to me and made me forgive his shortcomings more than in the film. The courtship between Asami and Aoyama was much more interesting and believable in the novel. There were many more dates than in the film and it involved more normal conversation, plus Aoyama fussing about what to do like a teenage boy. The first three quarters of the film were extremely boring, but provided a great contrast to the last quarter of the film. The only thing I'm going to say about the ending of the story is that the film was much better and much more effective. I wish I could combine the good parts of both versions of the story.
Overall, the book was very good. The crazy ending seems pretty out of the blue and abrupt, unlike the film, which has more of a lead into it. I loved the fleshing out of all the characters into people I can relate to and care about. I would especially recommend this book to fans of the film.