SilverFin by Charlie Higson

SilverFin by Charlie HigsonSilverfin (Young Bond #1) by Charlie Higson
Published: Miramax (2006), Paperback, 368pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Action, Fiction

Before the name became a legend. Before the boy became a man. Meet Bond. James Bond.

There's something in the water at Loch Silverfin. Something deadly. Something that must be kept secret...

It's James Bond's first day at Eton, and he's already met his first enemy. This is the start of an adventure that will take him from the school playing fields to the remote shores of Loch Silverfin and a terrifying discovery that threatens to unleash a new breed of warfare.

Okay, so, I’ve never read any of the original Bond books (yet), but I have seen a few of the movies. For someone who’s only vaguely familiar with the Bond canon, I enjoyed reading this book, even though it did have a few problems.

The story starts off really slowly– I don’t think the action-y parts start until more than 100 pages into it. However, I did like seeing Bond adjusting to a new life at Eton, getting used to that world and starting to obtain skills which he’ll later use as a spy. The action-y bits, once we got to them, were extremely exciting and suspenseful. I always thought those were the best bits of the Bond movies, so that made me happy. There’s a few more typical Bond things in SilverFin as well, which pretty much made me love the book, even if the rest wasn’t up to snuff.

There’s a Bond girl, of course, named– wait for it– Wilder Lawless! Ha! Another character was called Red Kelly, and yet another had the unfortunate nickname of Meatpacker.

There’s also weird science, Nazis, crazy killer animals, a mad villain who can’t resist talking about his plans before he tries to kill Bond. There’s an Aston Martin, a car chase (kinda), horrible deaths, and uncomfortable uniforms. Also, rash promises– Bond says he won’t ever smoke, but considering he seems to have a 60+ cigarette a day habit once he’s a spy, I think we all know he’ll change his mind later.

So that’s all the good stuff. The rest of it, unfortunately, was kinda bad. The writing wasn’t horrible, but it had problems. For instance, one sentence started with “let’s face it, he” blah blah blah. SO AWKWARD and I think even wrong. There’s also a few problems with punctuation: one paragraph consisted of about six or seven ellipses, which slowed it down when it should have been quick– it was an action sequence!

I also couldn’t help noticing that a lot of scenes seem to have been chucked in there for no reason, like the thing with Meatpacker, or were really long when they needn’t have been. For instance, a few pages were spent on explaining to Bond how an electric engine worked. It wasn’t, I think, entirely necessary to spend that much time on it: why exactly do I need to know about pistons? It doesn’t bring anything to my understanding of the story! It doesn’t even really play a big part in the story itself; it’s necessary that Bond learns to drive, not that he knows the inner workings of an Aston Martin. Surely those pages could have been condensed down into a paragraph or two of exposition.

It was things like that that decreased my enjoyment of the book overall, but, once I got past them, I did have a good time reading about Young Bond. And I did like that the characters had some depth to them, and that they weren’t just cardboard figures saying their lines (though I admit, it was close).

I have an audiobook of the second book in this series, Blood Fever. I’m thinking that if listen to it, I might be able to ignore the slow, useless bits more than if I had to read it. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Read: January 2009

Edit: OMG! I just learned that the US edition of SilverFin was edited for content from the UK version! What content? Just British slang, or something else? I know that this sometimes happens in YA books (see: Harry Potter), but still! Now I feel all uncomfortable. I bet some of the problems I had with the book– one of which was that Bond didn’t really seem British— is fixed in the UK version. Gah! So annoying!

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