19 January 2016

Review: Moonraker by Ian Fleming

Mass market paperback, 310 pages
Published 2006 (originally 1955)
Acquired September 2015
Read October 2015
Moonraker by Ian Fleming

Moonraker is distinguished by being the only James Bond (apparently) where Bond neither has sex nor leaves England. I don't really have much to say about the former, but the latter is kind of fascinating; this book gives us a glimpse of what Bond is like between missions. It's clear he really only comes to life when traveling abroad for Her Majesty's Government; when he's in England, he's trapped, a caged animal forced to act civilized to fit in with everyone else, and hating it. Fleming's depiction of Bond as a barbarian disguised as a member of the British elite is my favorite part of these novels, and Moonraker gives us some new angles on it by never leaving England.

The opening of the novel is another high-stakes card game, where Bond helps M out with a man cheating at bridge; I'm learning that no one can make a card game feel high stakes quite as well as Fleming! The latter part of the book, where Bond helps foil a plot by the same man, isn't quite as interesting, though there's a very tense car chase sequence. Gala Brand has probably been the best "Bond girl" so far, a competent professional who has her own life, though I can't help but feel the narrator sneers at her a bit for being a woman.

Casino Royale has clearly been the best of these books so far, but it's also quite interesting how little they resemble the formula I know from the films. Do they ever get there, or is that formula entirely an invention of the big screen? I guess I'll find out as I continue to read.

Next Week: I'm all caught up on my James Bond novels, so it's time to catch up on something else: Doctor Who and Christmas!

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