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CBn Reviews Young Bond #1: 'SilverFin'


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#1 Mister Asterix

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 12:18 AM

[mra]From CBn

#2 Atticus17F

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 02:21 AM

Three great reads, also. Thanks for those.

Interesting that the positives appear to outweigh the negatives, and the negatives appear to be very minor. Also interesting that there was little mention, if any, of humour in the novel. Considering Higson's background, I find that surprising, but not necessarily a bad thing!

I haven't managed to read my copy yet (it was hijacked by the kids before it landed on the doormat) but, after reading your reviews, I'm quite looking forward to it. :)

#3 Blofeld's Cat

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 02:28 AM

Well, I'm still interested in Young Bond™, despite the negatives in the reviews.

#4 mattbowyer

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 05:18 AM

Nice reviews guys, I think this actually sets a new record for CBn's longest sentence!

"The other is the concept of Young Bond, which for many, self included, strikes one as equally welcome as unsolicited emails promising one something at the Paris Hilton and similar in wisdom to any sort of spin-off and, further, in appearing to deny that the James Bond character has always been adult and that, accordingly,

#5 Qwerty

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 05:36 AM

Excellent reviews there guys. I enjoyed reading and seeing the different perspectives.

#6 marktmurphy

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 11:47 AM

Great review Jim. But if you hold the opinion that 'James Bond' as a brand name is simply a silly, overblown adventure with a foursquare English hero; does it succeed? Seeing as the Bond brand has meant this book has had publicity which none of its Alex Rider-esque bedfellows have received, and that this means it can appeal to that demographic of kids who have enjoyed stories about kids; can it really be said to have done any harm?
Put simply, more kids will read this because the main character is called James Bond and it is aimed directly at them (watch Blue Peter this week) than had done if it was an adult Bond novel. From the outside, children's books seem to be doing excessively well at the moment- so can it be said that more people will read this than would have done if it was an adult book? I can see why they have done this, and as it seems to deliver all that an adult Bond does (if we forget about the details of cars, drink sex etc. and focus solely on adventure), why shouldn't they?

That said, purely selfishly it sounds as if Higson is the best writer Bond has had for thirty years and I'd love to see an adult Bond from him.

#7 marktmurphy

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 03:49 PM

Incidentally, I just went down my local High Street to pick a copy up out of curiosity and it had sold out. That's right- a James Bond novel sold out. When's the last time that happened? (No selling out puns please).

#8 Simon

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 05:57 PM

[quote name='mattbowyer' date='5 March 2005 - 05:18']Nice reviews guys, I think this actually sets a new record for CBn's longest sentence!

"The other is the concept of Young Bond, which for many, self included, strikes one as equally welcome as unsolicited emails promising one something at the Paris Hilton and similar in wisdom to any sort of spin-off and, further, in appearing to deny that the James Bond character has always been adult and that, accordingly,

#9 Athena007

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 11:28 PM

The three of you did a great job on these reviews. It's really interesting to see three different reviews all with different voices all in one place. Thanks for taking the time to read the novel you guys. :)

#10 Loomis

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Posted 08 March 2005 - 04:58 PM

You know the Hollywood term "high concept"? In other words, a wild and kerazy movie idea that can be pitched in just a handful of words, for instance "Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito are brothers" (TWINS), or "A lawyer must tell the truth for 24 hours" (LIAR LIAR). I guess "Silverfin" qualifies as the first high concept Bond book - "James Bond is a schoolboy". The problem being that the concept is the book. There's really not much else going on apart from making Bond a young lad.... which is supposed to interest us purely because he's going to grow up to be James Bond 007. Yes, Higson is a talented writer, and, no, this isn't the worst of the continuation novels (by any means), but a good, solid and involving story just isn't there. Which isn't the end of the world, and I'm sure many readers will enjoy the book, etc., etc., but there is an air of missed opportunity, especially as the blurb paints "Silverfin" as a prequel to the books "Dr No" - "Octopussy", and therefore, presumably, of a piece with them. Once you get past the novelty of a boy called James Bond, there's.... nothing, really - apart from a generic "And I'd've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those pesky kids" mad scientist plot that Higson might have scribbled down on a restaurant napkin within the space of five minutes. Sure, Fleming's plots were usually no great shakes, but he did at least have a distinctive and compelling authorial voice that Higson, good though he is, lacks (or at least wasn't permitted by IFP to give full rein to, perhaps). There are no surprises in "Silverfin", and there's nothing that chimes with Fleming's work, either.

#11 Loomis

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 02:47 PM

Higson hit back at, well, us, on last night's Newsnight (a BBC current affairs programme). Asked in his capacity as Bond continuation novelist to give advice to an author who's been commissioned to pen a sequel to "Peter Pan", the first thing he said was: "Don't look at the websites, there are some scary fanatics out there who won't like what you're doing." He then said something along the lines of: "Just write it for yourself and don't worry about anything else."

Fair enough. :)

#12 Jack Bauer

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 03:33 AM

Very nice work, everyone. I enjoy seeing a mixture of positive and negative. It's a heck of a lot more appealing than seeing 3 reviews all kissing Higgy's butt.

#13 zencat

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 03:46 AM

Higson hit back at, well, us, on last night's Newsnight (a BBC current affairs programme). Asked in his capacity as Bond continuation novelist to give advice to an author who's been commissioned to pen a sequel to "Peter Pan", the first thing he said was: "Don't look at the websites, there are some scary fanatics out there who won't like what you're doing." He then said something along the lines of: "Just write it for yourself and don't worry about anything else."

Fair enough. :)

View Post


Hmmm...makes me recall our Raymond Benson CBn Interview.

Q. Do you have any advice for the next writer, whoever it may be?

RB. Make sure you

#14 Loomis

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 04:00 PM

[quote name='zencat' date='17 March 2005 - 03:46'][quote name='Loomis' date='15 March 2005 - 06:47']Higson hit back at, well, us, on last night's Newsnight (a BBC current affairs programme). Asked in his capacity as Bond continuation novelist to give advice to an author who's been commissioned to pen a sequel to "Peter Pan", the first thing he said was: "Don't look at the websites, there are some scary fanatics out there who won't like what you're doing." He then said something along the lines of: "Just write it for yourself and don't worry about anything else."

Fair enough. :)

View Post

[/quote]

Hmmm...makes me recall our Raymond Benson CBn Interview.

Q. Do you have any advice for the next writer, whoever it may be?

RB. Make sure you

#15 zencat

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 11:43 PM

Very nice work, everyone. I enjoy seeing a mixture of positive and negative. It's a heck of a lot more appealing than seeing 3 reviews all kissing Higgy's butt.

View Post


Thank you Jack Bauer. It was a bit of dilemma. At least it was for me who felt very mixed about the book (but ultimately I did like it). IFP has been very good to us. We got review copies, we were one of only a few Bondsites allowed an interview...should we have returned the favor with a glowing review, or copped out by publishing a review written by someone unaffiliated with CBn? I knew anything less than an honest review would be transparent to CBners and that would hurt our credibility.

It interesting, over the past year we've been in a position to get cozy with the companies who produce Bond material (games, books, toys). The trick is not to get too cozy. Then you start writing promotion instead of reviews and you stop being a true fan site. Fans can smell a site that's been compromised in this way. In the end, I find we get respect from both sides when we remain honest and our own men (and women).

End of speech. :)

#16 Dmitri Mishkin

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 11:56 PM

I also read the reviews but neglected to say how much I liked the diversity of opinion, as Jack Bauer says. You pretty well had all sides covered, the strongly-opposed fan, the enthusiastic fan and the in-between (not necessarily fence-sitting :)) fan. It was a good approach too seeing as to how, in the past, firestorms erupted over printing just one point of view, accusations of bias, etc. Although, I must say, Jim's review was by far the most cryptic of the three (he should definitely win some type of award for longest uninterrupted sentence which I'm told German writers celebrate).

Agreed with zencat in that when a website only brownnoses and doesn't criticize, it's less valuable for information and as a resource. More importantly, it gets Bland. And fast. Thankfully CBn haven't fallen into that trap.

#17 Skin 17

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Posted 26 July 2005 - 04:32 PM

When I heard about the young bond series I was a bit nervous. I didn't think that the concept would be well taken but from what I gather at this point people seem to like it. As soon as I finish The Man With The Red Tattoo I will have to try it.

#18 TortillaFactory

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 07:27 AM

Great work on the reviews, guys - very interesting opinions.

Also interesting that there was little mention, if any, of humour in the novel. Considering Higson's background, I find that surprising, but not necessarily a bad thing!


You know, there really wasn't much humor in it at all. I've just finished it, and there were one or two very funny lines, but that was it. Higson could have easily gone much quirkier with it, but he chose not too, and in the end his book was arguably much more serious than anything Fleming wrote.

Since there's no other thread in which to vent my opinions, I'll just hijack this one, I suppose. It ain't pretty, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Which brings me to Wilder Lawless: why? Is it just me, or does one get the idea, from the way Bond behaves after his testosterone kicks in, that his first impression of women was not as strong, competent tomboys? Sure, it makes for a good (if cliched) kids' book, but if we can't be honest about Bond's past for the sake of the little ones, perhaps the story oughtn't to be written in the first place.

I say this with tongue in cheek, because I really did enjoy the book, though I felt Higson could have gone with a more interesting and unique style. I've noticed it among the other Bond writers, as well (Fleming obviously excepted): they're almost afraid to put their own voices into the story, probably because they don't feel comfortable working with such a larger-than-life character. You get the feeling that Gardner, Benson, and now Higson are all somewhat intimidated by the man behind the number.

It was interesting to see James' transformation into the Bond we know. I, too, wonder if the injection will affect him permanently...it's certain that the experience did. At first I was concerned that Higson didn't really "get" the character of Bond at all (could he have been that different as a kid?) but by the end of the novel, I had confidence in him. It's that wonderful, polished, cruel snarkiness that we all know so well. The question is, do I believe that it could have happened overnight like that? Even taking into account the trauma? Meh...maybe just a bit more than I believe Anakin was turned to the Dark Side because he had a bad dream.

And, really, does anyone believe Bond's childhood was all that bearable up until his parents' death? I know I'm biased because I wrote some of it into my story, but I really think there was more going on than Andrew just being "detatched"...and Monique loved her son dearly? Really? Then why's he so eager for female approval now? Forgive me for being Freudian, but...something doesn't add up. As awful as it must be to lose your parents at age 11, something still doesn't add up.

#19 Sylvia Trench

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 03:13 PM

if you read any other higson novlels, you will see that his style is really not at all different in SilverFin. This is how he writes. Ok, maybe he had to simplify some stuff for younger readers, but he has a pretty stripped down style. Thank God he didn't try to ape fleming. As to bond's relationships with women, I guess we'll have to see how that develops over the five books in the series.

#20 spynovelfan

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:06 PM

Coming in extremely late to this, my tuppence on SILVERFIN.

I really liked it. I had a few minor niggles - I failed to see the point of Wilder Lawless and her horse made me cringe. Liked Uncle Max and Charmian, but found the references to Fleming a little too obvious. But it was very easy to read, and that's always a good sign, I think. A slow start but then very pacy. Very well written ending. Though even by Bond adventure standards, the villain makes a pretty abysmal error, surely? By which I mean
Spoiler


It's a slightly generic plot, of course - a bit Secret Seven - but I think Higson managed to make something very tricky look very easy. He fell into a few holes - didn't like the politically correct choice of friends - but considering what he could have done, he managed this very well. It felt period, but didn't rely on cliches to do it; and it also felt timeless and reasonably modern. It's a boy's adventure; but is very readable for adults. It's James Bond; but he's 13. Pretty amazing to do that, when you consider the trouble Gardner had just updating the character to the 80s. A prequel, and Bond as a boy - much harder.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

I give SILVERFIN an A minus. :tup:

#21 K1Bond007

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:49 PM

I agree with most of your assessment, specifically the part of Wilder Lawless. There was no point to her character, which isn't that bad, but I felt she was only there to fill in the role of the Bond girl - that truly wasn't needed for a 13 year old Bond. I think it would have been fine to omit her altogether, but then I wonder how many people would be upset that a staple such as a beautiful girl in a James Bond novel is missing.

#22 Garth007

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 01:10 AM

I just finished Silverfin and wow that was great. Even when James was growing up his life was tuff. I liked were Bond actually enteracted with other students and have it base like real life schools u know like having bullies for instance. I thought it was a great beginning opener to show how bond was in the beginning. I kind of liked the ending i mean it could of been alittle better but the idea of the eels was great. Silverfin is an all around great book in my opinion. :cooltongue:

#23 zencat

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 01:12 AM

I'm looking forward to re-reading SilverFin (in fact, I almost started the other night). I had a mixed reaction to the book, but I bet I'd see it in a new light now that we are down the road with the series.

#24 sharpshooter

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 03:43 AM

I will do that a little later on also.

I have SilverFin ranked last in my Young Bond ranking. This is mainly due to the fact of the finale sequences.
I didnt find them as believable as the others. Such as the bent tree climb, the rather generic super soldier scheme and a few other things.
I think I will change my mind, as the scheme of Hellebore is rather experimentary considering the timeframe, and the book contains one of my favourite scenes in any book - the escape and swimming scene.

#25 Bond... Raybond

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 01:58 PM

I have not gotten around to reading the Young Bond series yet, but was in Birmingham airport a few days ago and found myself with a little time waiting for my flight. Flicking through Silverfin I read the opening chapter (so-so), but I throughly enjoyed Higson's riff on Fleming's first line in Casino Royale, that introduces us and Bond to Eton. I'll have to buy it now to see if the rest is up to that standard.

#26 sharpshooter

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 12:53 PM

I'll have to buy it now to see if the rest is up to that standard.


Oh they are. They get better if anything.

#27 MkB

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 12:34 PM

Just finished SilverFin, my 1st Young Bond book.

It's OK, but I still love the Moneypenny Diaries much better.

One thing struck me: in SilverFin,
Spoiler


#28 double o ego

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 10:17 AM

Hmm, I own all the books an read blood fever first, then double or die and now just finished silverfin. Now, I can read HG andBRC in order.
Now, I thought silverfin was marvellous. The thing is, people need to realise that these books are targeting the child demographic and what Higson has done is, he's managed to create a series of stories that go beyond the call of duty in creating stories for children, so much so that adults for the most part largely enjoy reading them and naturally have a few issues due to the fact that they're looking at these books from an adult perspective.
I thought silverfin was well written, atmospheric and did a brilliant job at illustrating a classic Bond adventure. Most importantly, there's a lot of development and genuine sincerity towards the characters. A very gripping tale and a most enjoyable read. It's Bond and it never dissapoints.




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