Jump to content


The forums are moving

Please head over to our new forums at https://quarterdeck.commanderbond.net/ as these forums will soon be converted to a read only archive.



Photo

'Devil May Care' After Action Reports


  • Please log in to reply
437 replies to this topic

Poll: 'Devil May Care' After Action Reports

How do you rate Sebastian Faulks' centenary novel?

You cannot see the results of the poll until you have voted. Please login and cast your vote to see the results of this poll.
Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 Righty007

Righty007

    Discharged.

  • Veterans Reserve
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 13051 posts
  • Location:Station CLE - Cleveland

Posted 27 May 2008 - 05:32 PM

People are beginning to get their hands on Devil May Care which means reviews of the novel aren't far behind. Post your review here! Make sure to give it a rating based on the 1 - 5 star scale:

:( - I waited for this!?

:D - It's okay.

:tup: - It's a decent Bond adventure.

:) - It's close but not Fleming!

:tup: - It's the best Bond novel since Fleming!

#2 whiteskwirl

whiteskwirl

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 163 posts
  • Location:Taiwan

Posted 28 May 2008 - 06:58 AM

I bought it and read through it, and I'll probably pay for it in a few hours when I have to get up and go to work. Before I give my review I should qualify myself. I have not read all of Fleming's works. Casino Royale, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, and You Only Live Twice. I've read a few Gardner books and most of the Benson books. My introduction to Bond came from the movies.

So I'm not expert on what is an is not Fleming. I also had high expectations for those books. Anyway, here's my opinion. Spoilers follow, so be warned.




Posted Image
This book seemed like a cross between Fleming and Benson, with a bit of Gardner thrown in. The tennis match is practically the same as the golf match in High Time to Kill. Just replace the tennis terms with golf and you have the same scene. Of course Bond wins, after losing most of the time, and of course Gorner cheats. So you have Casino Royale and Moonraker in there. And then Gorner is a bad loser (High Time to Kill).

But if I point out all the things ripped from a previous Bond, literary or film, we'll be here all day. Because there is a lot. The excerpts published hinted that Faulks was going down a list of Bond references, and Faulks even says he did, and it is evident. Devil May Care is the Die Another Day of the literary realm, with all the references to past Bond books and even films. The VC10 scene reminded me of a similar plane scene in either License Renewed or For Special Services.

The first 100 pages are boring. It's just Bond checking in and out of hotels, eating at restaurants, and talking with people while not really getting any new important information. Gorner is a huge threat, but damned if anybody can say why. Okay, he has a lot of money and he deals in drugs. So what's Gorner's deal?

We don't know until a third of the way into the book when we find out he hates Britain because, wait for it...people laughed at his monkey paw hand. He was made fun of. That's his motivation for nuking Russia, subsequently leading to London being nuked, then WWIII, plus turning the Brits into heroin junkies over time. That's some motivation.

That's a pretty weak reason to want revenge so bad as to cause WWIII. But wait, there's more. That's not even the real reason. Because Scarlett (who is actually the new 004, which you can see coming from a mile away) lied about that part. So we don't even really know why Gorner hates Britain so bad. Because Britain did bad things to others over time? Why would he care about that when he doesn't care about any of the people around him?

So the story itself is a huge minus, plus the first third of the book is boring and repetitive. Hotel. Restaurant. Talk. Repeat. That's about it for the first 100 pages.

Now, the descriptions of food and other finery are Fleming-ish, but there's too much of it. And Fleming never bored me with it; he at least included some story in there too instead of making me wait so long.

There are a few bad one-liners (I'm banking on it) but there are more good lines delivered in a subtle way, so thumbs up to the humor.

The names are silly. Poppy and Scarlett Papava. And Chagrin? Why does the villain A. need a deformity, and B. need a weird freakshow sidekick?

Maybe I'm being too hard on the story. I mean, after all, once it gets going it is entertaining, though on the whole, I think the action scenes are weak. There's never any time when I'm not 100% sure Bond will be okay. I mean, yeah, he's going to survive, he's a series character, but the suspense/tension is oddly absent. Maybe it's because the scenes seem so receycled, such as the car chases which are all similar to each other, and the VC10 scene, and maybe how the Ekranoplan is destroyed so easily.

It's just too easy for Bond to foil the plan, and then it's anticlimactic. Chagrin is killed on a train and shoved out a window (sound familiar?). Bond's injuries don't bother him very much. He has a cracked rib but it never inhibits his movement.

And Bond is dumb as rocks in this one. He goes to the hangar to take pictures of the Ekranoplan (why he didn't bring a camera the first time, I don't know). He senses it's a trap, yet he still goes through the front door and of course, gets captured. Most of the book Bond is captured, actually. Then he escapes and is caught again. The first guard in the hangar he knocks out for 15 seconds. If he had killed him there would have been no problem and the mission would probably have been completed cleanly. He tells too much information to people he just met, such as talking to Scarlett with Hamid sitting there with them.


Overall, Devil May Care disappointed me. It wasn't the references to past Bond tales. It was the weak story, weak villain motivation, and weak action scenes which left me feeling cold. Bond saves the day but it's too easy, the Ekranoplan is destroyed easily without having any impact on the story, and the first third of the book is boring, with Bond eating a lot and not getting much information.

However, the last 2/3 of the book are entertaining (I did read it in one sitting after all). I don't know, maybe I'm being too hard on this book, but I think it could have been a lot better. Faulks says he wrote it in six weeks. I wonder how long it took him to come up with the story. I felt that Faulks relied too much on past Bond books/movies rather than just writing a good Bond story. It didn't feel like Fleming. Parts of it did, but it was more like a mix of all the Bonds, books and films, like Die Another Day referenced the other movies.

That's what Devil May Care is, in my opinion: the literary Die Another Day. It even had a ridiculous plot with little motivation (Icarus used to take over the world? no, just South Korea vs. start WWIII and get Britain hooked on drugs because people laughed at my monkey hand...except that was made up, so what was Gorner really mad about? I guess we'll never know.)


Posted Image

#3 sharpshooter

sharpshooter

    Commander

  • Executive Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 8996 posts

Posted 28 May 2008 - 09:36 AM

Ouch. It sounds pretty much like a flop after reading that little opinion piece.

#4 DamnCoffee

DamnCoffee

    Commander

  • Executive Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 24459 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 28 May 2008 - 09:44 AM

The literary Die Another Day? It cannot be that bad, surely? I'm gonna reserve judgement untill I read the book myself.

#5 Skudor

Skudor

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 9286 posts
  • Location:Buckinghamshire

Posted 28 May 2008 - 10:10 AM

I've avoided the excerpts and probably won't get hold of the book itself until the weekend, but I'm not liking the comments I'm seeing (both on the excerpts and the novel). Sounds like the DAD reference may be close to the mark.

Final judgement obviously reserved for when I've actually read the damned thing!

#6 Jim

Jim

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 14266 posts
  • Location:Oxfordshire

Posted 28 May 2008 - 12:10 PM

The attached is quite fun (if spoilerific) - chap on the BBC website reading it in real time (as of now - three days from now this will look ridiculous).

Warning - spoilers...

http://news.bbc.co.u...ent/7422372.stm

#7 marktmurphy

marktmurphy

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 9055 posts
  • Location:London

Posted 28 May 2008 - 12:14 PM

I was just about to post that myself! What a fun idea.

Although it doesn't sound great so far...

#8 Skudor

Skudor

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 9286 posts
  • Location:Buckinghamshire

Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:18 PM

I noticed that the model in the fetching red latex jumpsuit didn't wear a lifejacket on the speedboat thingy.

#9 Marketto007

Marketto007

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 2487 posts
  • Location:Brasil

Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:25 PM

You're mean Skudor, meeean.

xxx

#10 Trident

Trident

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 2658 posts
  • Location:Germany

Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:31 PM

Well, unlike Mr Craig she will have outlived her usefulness once the book is delivered and the pics are shot. No use investing (nice pun, btw) in safety where safety isn't actually necessary, is there? (sarcasm off)

Edited by Trident, 28 May 2008 - 01:37 PM.


#11 whiteskwirl

whiteskwirl

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 163 posts
  • Location:Taiwan

Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:31 PM

The literary Die Another Day? It cannot be that bad, surely? I'm gonna reserve judgement untill I read the book myself.



I compare it to Die Another Day because of all the references to past tales and because the villain's plan is too extreme for what he wants to achieve. Devil May Care is not as silly as Die Another Day, that's for sure. DMC is well-written.

I'm curious how close to Fleming others think DMC is. I haven't read enough Fleming to be any kind of expert on that.

#12 bleary_25

bleary_25

    Midshipman

  • Crew
  • 55 posts

Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:11 PM

Here's my review, originally posted on my LiveJournal:

Devil May Care is a rich, full-bodied tribute to Ian Fleming - on the occasion of his Centenary - and the character of James Bond.


Posted Image
And just as 2006's Casino Royale is difficult to compare to the first twenty James Bond films, Sebastian Faulks' novel is difficult to compare to the Fleming canon - though for different reasons. Casino Royale felt like Fleming on screen; Devil May Care feels like an imitation.

Not that I mean that too critically. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When Faulks was first announced as the writer for this Fleming Centenary event, I read Charlotte Grey and then this year, his latest novel, Engleby. By the time of Engleby, I knew his Bond novel would be written "as Fleming" - but knowing his own work informs where I think the tribute goes slightly wrong.

Faulks isn't Fleming, though his attempt to echo his work - in his clipped style and journalistic phrasing - is crafted wonderfully. What is missing is the context of what the 60s was really like, written by a man in the 60s. This distance is understandable, but creates a schism in sensibilities. Fleming's Bond is casually misogynist and deeply racist. The villains are ethnic stereotypes. The women are easily manipulated fantasy figures. Faulks' sensibility is different.

The author has talked at length about trying to become Fleming - writing 2000 words a day over a six week period, as Fleming once prescribed as the best way to write a thriller. Faulks has spoken about the subject matter - drugs and the Middle East - as two area's that Fleming never touched on or did so only briefly. This is one of the strongest choices of the book - as with the nearly two years he puts on Bond's life between the end of The Man with the Golden Gun - Fleming's final James Bond novel. In a way, it marks a line and says there is going to be a distance, there has to be - I am not Ian Fleming.

This is a tribute. And a wonderful tribute to both the creator and the character of James Bond.

Fleming's Bond was rarely one to reflect on past events, though there is some character continuity in the original novels, references to past characters and adventures are few and far between. Devil May Care contains references to nearly every Fleming novel - though at last count I am missing specific references to Doctor No, Diamonds are Forever, Thunderball and - understandably - The Spy Who Loved Me (which is only obliquely a Bond novel).

Purists will complain about these references, but for me I think that was one of the strengths of the book - I was there to revisit a character that hasn't been written this way for over forty years. The 80s and 90s attempts by Ian Fleming Publications (formerly Glidrose) to modernise the character and the franchise were an extension of the brand. Much like the film character's backstory must have progressed through to the early 2000s before the reboot in 2006, it was a type of James Bond but it wasn't exactly Fleming's character.

Written with a 2008 sensibility and the historic context it brings, makes the book fascinating in other ways. It's difficult to read stories of the Middle East - even as a period piece like this - without thinking about the current and ongoing turmoil in the region. And Faulks doesn't pretend that our modern knowledge - our shared cultural understanding - of Iran and Islam doesn't exist. In fact, he uses the public's ignorance in some matters to contrast how even in the space of forty years, some societies can be forced backward rather than forward - if the political situation warrants it.

The story isn't about the Middle East, though. It's about James Bond easing his way back into active duty after eighteen months of paper pushing and then a three-month sabbatical, M having given him an ultimatum to make up his mind whether to return to full Double-O status or not. The book is structured not unlike a Fleming novel, with some incident outside Bond's knowledge giving rise to the main story, then Bond called into M's office for a briefing on the villain.

And Dr Julius Gorner joins the pantheon of smooth talking maniacs with a grudge and - as so often happens - a physical deformity. In this case, a left hand that looks like a monkey's paw. This affectation works well for the character, it's somewhat of an Achilles heel for him to even talk about it - and Bond wonders what school boy first picked on Gorner's disability and turned him into the Britain-hating monster he has become.

In the meantime, Bond is gathering intelligence from old friend Rene Mathis of the French Secret Service - and off to the side, ex-CIA operative Felix Leiter is helping out the good guys. As much as I enjoyed the chapter "Small World" for giving us an overview of what all these sundry characters are doing while Bond is with the villain, it strikes me somewhat as a bit of fan service - giving us Leiter without Bond ever knowing he's on the case. Mathis investigating the murder that opens the book, that doesn't really lead to anything of consequence - even though everything is connected.

The connections - as intricate and melodramatic as they are - form a strong theme in the book. As much as I love Fleming's originals - a cut above pulp detective novels to be sure, I have never read them and thought about their themes. Is it Faulks style hidden in plain view inside the Fleming imitation? Maybe I should revisit Fleming and see what may be lurking there? But I have to believe that Faulks just finds the kind of literary connections that Fleming never strove for. A connection of connections.

The relationship between Bond and Scarlett (and by extension her twin sister Poppy) is in some ways very typically Fleming - when Bond acknowledges there is more of a connection (a bond?) between him and a woman than merely sex, he thinks he's falling in love. Scarlett, oddly enough, seems to think the same way by the end; possibly a holdover of 60s sensibility too - of course she would fall in love with James Bond. He, of course, thinks he doesn't fall in love easily.

There is a twist in their story, which would stretch credulity if the pieces weren't all laid out noticeably through the novel. It's a nod to the series' pulpy traditions really - familial relations that aren't quite what they seem; women who seem to be there to help are there to harm or vice versa. Some might even criticise Faulks for modernising the Bond girl - something the film franchise has struggled with since the 70s. I think because it feeds the theme of connection, that it works better than it might had Fleming tried it.

Not to criticise Fleming, though. Faulks in some ways has lifted the Bond/villain relationship directly from Goldfinger - where he sees Gorner on two occasions before they become enemies, with a tense tennis match here substituting for Auric Goldfinger's love of golf. And yet Fleming's plots are comparatively straight forward, with Devil May Care being somewhat disjointed story-wise. Fleming was a three act classicist; Faulks tries something a little different with the climax and the denouement.

Just as 2006's Casino Royale film did, this new James Bond adult novel - an extension of Fleming's canon - takes all the ingredients we know and love and sets them inside a new adventure. We want to see the martini shaken not stirred. We want to read about his Walter PPK. And for Fleming lovers, hear more about Bond's housekeeper May or his secretary Leolia Ponsonby. And Mathis. And Leiter. M. And Miss Moneypenny.

The book is engaging and fun. It's a strong and fitting tribute to Fleming and James Bond. It puts us back into the 60s but doesn't pretend we live there.


Devil May Care is some Bond novel.

#13 Jim

Jim

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 14266 posts
  • Location:Oxfordshire

Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:31 PM

Insofar as my opinion's worth anything


Posted Image
I've abandoned it half way through. I'm not engaged.

Shame.

May come back to it but current instant review is "putdownable".


#14 dodge

dodge

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5068 posts
  • Location:USA

Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:27 PM

Thank for, gents, for helping me save my hard-earned money. Isn't it interesting to note that the estammed Faulks can't do what the scorned Fleming could do with such brilliance?

#15 Jim

Jim

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 14266 posts
  • Location:Oxfordshire

Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:37 PM

Thank for, gents, for helping me save my hard-earned money. Isn't it interesting to note that the estammed Faulks can't do what the scorned Fleming could do with such brilliance?


Oh, do make up your own mind.

Posted Image
Of that half I've read, it's not a bad book by any means, and it's defter than the pre-publication extracts suggest. In all respects it's a more successful continuation of a Flemingy voice than any of the others (although a pretty low benchmark has been set and two of them explicitly stated that they weren't trying to ape Fleming so it's a moot achievement) and insofar as that's the ambition, it's a success. It's just that... the story isn't. Writing as Ian Fleming - yes, more or less, ish. An Ian Fleming story - nah. It may improve but I've lost interest for the moment. If Fleming had written it, I suspect it would have been reviewed as much the same as before without offering anything terribly new. Has Mr Fleming run out of ideas? And has he been slightly over-influenced by those films desecrating his creation, those American things with that Mr Canary in them?


#16 ImTheMoneypenny

ImTheMoneypenny

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPip
  • 1352 posts
  • Location:USA

Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:52 PM

I've been reading it slowly, which is my habit with Bond books, a chapter or two before bed. In this girl's humble opinion, it's enjoyable so far. A good tribute.

Posted Image
My only complaint so far is, if Faulks were going to bring back a secretary, I'd have rather liked to have seen Mary Goodnight return as Bond's secretary, if just see if the time between TMWTGG and DMC cooled her interest in him or made the office a bit more interestingly complicated. I thought Loelia was on the stern/virginal side. Maybe I need to re-read some Fleming.


#17 dodge

dodge

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5068 posts
  • Location:USA

Posted 29 May 2008 - 03:09 PM

Thank for, gents, for helping me save my hard-earned money. Isn't it interesting to note that the estammed Faulks can't do what the scorned Fleming could do with such brilliance?


Oh, do make up your own mind.
Posted Image
Of that half I've read, it's not a bad book by any means, and it's defter than the pre-publication extracts suggest. In all respects it's a more successful continuation of a Flemingy voice than any of the others (although a pretty low benchmark has been set and two of them explicitly stated that they weren't trying to ape Fleming so it's a moot achievement) and insofar as that's the ambition, it's a success. It's just that... the story isn't. Writing as Ian Fleming - yes, more or less, ish. An Ian Fleming story - nah. It may improve but I've lost interest for the moment. If Fleming had written it, I suspect it would have been reviewed as much the same as before without offering anything terribly new. Has Mr Fleming run out of ideas? And has he been slightly over-influenced by those films desecrating his creation, those American things with that Mr Canary in them?


But how can I make up my own mind when you're always re-making it for me? :tup:

#18 The Dove

The Dove

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 16671 posts
  • Location:Colorado Springs, Colorado

Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:04 PM

:tup: I'm up to Chapter 8 so far and AM LOVING IT!! :tup: :(

#19 SecretAgent007

SecretAgent007

    Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • PipPip
  • 660 posts
  • Location:Central Pennsylvania

Posted 29 May 2008 - 05:27 PM

I picked this up last night and am a little more than half way through it. So far it is a little boring. Everything seems to be recycled from past novels and there are too many awkward references shoe horned into the book. There is no urgency when reading this. Some parts are very choppy. Not in any way the "Fleming sweep". Although, I find that Bond's point of view is closer to Fleming than Amis, Gardner, or Benson. But to be fair none of these other authors are Fleming or had the same life experience that he did. It would be very hard, if not impossible for anyone to imitate his writing style without it seeming forced. But as I said, I feel this is the closest to character, if not plot and writing style of any previous attempt. And at least so far there are no gadgets other than a modified Minox.(although one has been eluded to). Hopefully the second half picks up. I can't see me re-reading this for several years.

:tup: 1/2

Edited by SecretAgent007, 29 May 2008 - 05:29 PM.


#20 whiteskwirl

whiteskwirl

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 163 posts
  • Location:Taiwan

Posted 29 May 2008 - 08:03 PM

To the moderator(s): Can you add a poll to this thread with the star ratings as choices? That way we can get an idea what the community as a whole thinks of the book, in addition to reading the reviews.

#21 K1Bond007

K1Bond007

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4932 posts
  • Location:Illinois

Posted 29 May 2008 - 08:10 PM

I've been reading it slowly, which is my habit with Bond books, a chapter or two before bed. In this girl's humble opinion, it's enjoyable so far. A good tribute.

Posted Image
My only complaint so far is, if Faulks were going to bring back a secretary, I'd have rather liked to have seen Mary Goodnight return as Bond's secretary, if just see if the time between TMWTGG and DMC cooled her interest in him or made the office a bit more interestingly complicated. I thought Loelia was on the stern/virginal side. Maybe I need to re-read some Fleming.


Well in Fleming,

Posted Image
She may be on the stern/virginal side (I can't remember), but she got married so one would assume she'd consummate it. Goodnight transferred from the post which is why she turns up in Jamaica in The Man with the Golden Gun. So in this adventure it's either the way Faulks went or it'd probably be someone new.


#22 whiteskwirl

whiteskwirl

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 163 posts
  • Location:Taiwan

Posted 29 May 2008 - 08:15 PM

Is anyone else disappointed that...

Posted Image
Bond's fight scene was on the VC-10 instead of the ekranoplan? I mean, it's a new vehicle not seen in a Bond story yet, and it's interesting. In fact, it's the first thing Bond encounters once he finally gets to work on his mission. And yet the ekranoplan has no impact on the story at all. It's destroyed without any fuss, and without Bond stepping a foot inside it. A wasted opportunity for a kick-:tup: action scene, I think. Here's a picture of it, from wikipedia:

Posted Image

Wouldn't a fight in/on (especially on) that thing have been awesome?


#23 Peckinpah1976

Peckinpah1976

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 351 posts
  • Location:UK

Posted 29 May 2008 - 08:22 PM

Great prose, with the same really vivid sense of location that Flemings' work had - especially in the Perisan sequences. However as others have mentioned there is far too much recycling of plot elements from the original books, meaning that it either feels like very tired Fleming or straight-out pastiche (which surely wasn't the intention).

Posted Image
The Tennis match is just plain embarrassing and I actually groaned aloud when later on we get an exact repeat of the airborne decompression sequence from Goldfinger.


Another problem is that neither Gorner or Scarlett make much of an impression (the latter seems particularly odd given were Faulks usual strengths supposedly lie).

Not a disaster by any means but certainly not in the same league as the better Higson novels.

Three out of Five.

Edited by Peckinpah1976, 29 May 2008 - 08:27 PM.


#24 whiteskwirl

whiteskwirl

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 163 posts
  • Location:Taiwan

Posted 29 May 2008 - 08:31 PM

Not a disaster by any means but certainly not in the same league as the better Higson novels.


I agree, it's not a disaster. I can see giving it three stars if you're not bothered by some of the unrealistic motivations/plot points. It's an average affair.

But given that the book was commissioned to commemorate Fleming's 100th birthday, I expected a higher-caliber story. The execution of the story is pretty good, but the story itself isn't. Average just isn't good enough, considering the special event.

#25 Blofeld's Cat

Blofeld's Cat

    Commander RNVR

  • Commanding Officers
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 17542 posts
  • Location:A secret hollowed out volcano in Sydney (33.79294 South, 150.93805 East)

Posted 29 May 2008 - 09:31 PM

To the moderator(s): Can you add a poll to this thread with the star ratings as choices? That way we can get an idea what the community as a whole thinks of the book, in addition to reading the reviews.

NB: Please don't rate the book until you've actually finished it (or in Jim's case, stopped reading it).

Cheers.

#26 Loomis

Loomis

    Commander CMG

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 21862 posts

Posted 29 May 2008 - 09:40 PM

I'm about halfway through. I'm not a particularly fast reader, but this book has a cracking pace and seems to me virtually impossible to read at anything other than lightning speed.

However, I'm also in the Distinctly Underwhelmed camp, and I say that as someone who's a big fan of Faulks as well as a big fan of Bond. While I've only read A FOOL'S ALPHABET and ENGLEBY, I consider both of them among the most unique, brilliant and moving novels I've ever read, and have already re-read the latter mere months after first reading it, and will soon re-read the former. I was blown away by Faulks' imagination and the quality of his writing.

Neither of which, sadly, are evident in DEVIL MAY CARE. And, nope, the writing style has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Fleming, either.

It's as though one of today's greatest rock bands - Radiohead, say (or pick a rock band you hold in very high regard) - had been asked to record an album of new songs in the style of Led Zeppelin, in order to pay tribute to Page, Plant and co.

Now, imagine if the resulting album by Radiohead Recording AS Led Zeppelin didn't actually sound like Led Zeppelin at all. Imagine if it was much more like a Spinal Tap LP.

Well, that's what we've got here, unfortunately. DMC has its moments, sure, but it's certainly not what it could and should have been, or what it's being promoted as.

Until very recently, I'd honestly believed (based on my slight but wonderful acquaintance with Faulks' work) that DEVIL MAY CARE would be one of the very greatest artistic achievements in the history of James Bond, right up there with Fleming's YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, and Eon's FRWL, GOLDFINGER, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and CASINO ROYALE.

Not even close, I'm afraid.

For now, I'm giving it a somewhat generous 3/5. It's still one of the very best of the continuation novels, but that's hardly saying all that much given the general quality of the competition. It doesn't touch COLONEL SUN or JAMES BOND: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY (not read the Wood novelizations, but wouldn't be surprised if it didn't approach those two, either).

#27 MajorB

MajorB

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3700 posts
  • Location:Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA

Posted 30 May 2008 - 12:53 AM

I'm a few chapters in, and echo much of what's been said. What struck me is how little narrative tension there is--nothing is pushing me ahead to the next page and the next. Also, one of Fleming's great strengths as a writer was drawing you into whatever scene he was describing, making you feel a part of it. I feel as if everything in DMC is somewhere over there, at a distance.

The more I read other authors' attempts at Bond stories, the more my admiration for Fleming grows. He had his flaws, to be sure, but boy could he tell a story.

Edited by MajorB, 30 May 2008 - 12:54 AM.


#28 Simon

Simon

    Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5884 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 30 May 2008 - 09:13 AM

Oh dear. My wife was introduced to Faulks' writing via the then imminent DMC and bought Human Traces, which is currently being thoroughly enjoyed.

Following this, she wondered if We would be reading DMC which instigated its purchase.

Hoping she isn't going to be thrown by this once we start it, although she hasn't read any Fleming so maybe the references will not interfere as they would otherwise.

Although the 'engagement' is another matter entirely...

#29 Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs

    Lt. Commander

  • Veterans
  • PipPip
  • 784 posts

Posted 30 May 2008 - 12:41 PM

Was up until 3 am reading it. Not necessarily because I was gripped, but because I'd promised myself that I'd read it in one sitting. My thoughts:

Posted Image
The plot is a huge letdown and I imagine I won't be the only one who finds it unimaginative and a bit lazy. A drug dealer who wants to start a war because he really really doesn't like England? Thats it? A 3rd rate rehash of Hugo Drax? Fleming's plots always had a touch of the surreal about them and this is what DMC sorely lacks.
It occurs to me that, whilst Fleming wrote his books in six weeks, for the year before he would be scribbling notes and (probably) planning the book inside his head.
Did Faulks do the same? Probably not. The prose isn't slapdash and lazy (far from it) but I'm afraid the story is. It lacks momentum. Once I got to the Ekranoplan and Bond getting knocked out I found myself beginning to lose interest. I just didn't feel Bond was in any serious bother.
Other quibbles: Faulks is constantly trying to give the story some contemporary relevance: Mentions of a lack of veils in Iran; Helmand Province; what could be achieved by one man dominating much of the media... its nice and I suppose it gives the novel a depth of sorts, but theres too much of it. It gets irritating and in the way of what Faulks should have been trying to do - writing a bloody thriller.
The parts set in Russia are a huge missed opportunity. It doesn't read like Bond. More like Bond suddenly strolling into someonelse's book. Again, even when Chagrin pops up, you don't feel Bond and Scarlet are in a particularly sticky spot.

This all probably reads like I'm taking a :tup: on Sebastian Faulks from a great height. In fact there are a lot of things aboutt this I loved. The opening chapters (prior to the bleedin' Ekranoyawn) are excellent: The noirish parisian opening, the introduction to an older Bond feeling he's lost his spark. Everything in Paris is superb and drips with sophistication and the faded glamour I love about Fleming. The Tehran club scenes accompnied Darius are sexy, suprising and great fun. Obviously modelled on the Kerim scenes in FRWL and, for me, equally if not more memorable. They are also rather contrived and unimportant to the plot, which is no bad thing. Maybe faulks should have donw more of this... move us away from his pedestrian plot and just have a bit of fun.
I also like his interpretation of Rene Mathis as a wily ols Parisian adulterer. Unsuprisingly, as I say, everything Faulks sets in Paris is far more vibrant than the rest of the book.
The 004 "twist" is transparent from the off, but I think Scarlet is a sexy heroine I'd like to see more of. The "almost but not quite" sex scene in the "Trouser" chapter is very sexy, as is the splendid last few paragraphs. The trouble is that this sexual tension isn't consistent throughout, particularly when she and Bond make their escape through Russia. Two people who fancy each other in peril? Surely theyd be all over each other? Too often she and Bond come across as a pair of slightly flirty urban sophisticates, not two people falling wildly in lust.
And so, even when I try and be nice, and despite being one of the few people who went in to bat for Faulks when people slated the extracts, I find myself being critical. But theres plenty to like about DMC and I can't give it less than 3, perhaps even 3 and a half out of five.
Its not Fleming, but then it was never going to be. I wouldnt recommend it to someone new to Bond literature but any Fleming fan should find plenty to enjoy here as well as plenty to be frustrated by. All in all a bit of a missed opportunity.


#30 Peckinpah1976

Peckinpah1976

    Sub-Lieutenant

  • Crew
  • Pip
  • 351 posts
  • Location:UK

Posted 30 May 2008 - 02:41 PM

Was up until 3 am reading it. Not necessarily because I was gripped, but because I'd promised myself that I'd read it in one sitting. My thoughts:

Posted Image
The plot is a huge letdown and I imagine I won't be the only one who finds it unimaginative and a bit lazy. A drug dealer who wants to start a war because he really really doesn't like England? Thats it? A 3rd rate rehash of Hugo Drax? Fleming's plots always had a touch of the surreal about them and this is what DMC sorely lacks.
It occurs to me that, whilst Fleming wrote his books in six weeks, for the year before he would be scribbling notes and (probably) planning the book inside his head.
Did Faulks do the same? Probably not. The prose isn't slapdash and lazy (far from it) but I'm afraid the story is. It lacks momentum. Once I got to the Ekranoplan and Bond getting knocked out I found myself beginning to lose interest. I just didn't feel Bond was in any serious bother.
Other quibbles: Faulks is constantly trying to give the story some contemporary relevance: Mentions of a lack of veils in Iran; Helmand Province; what could be achieved by one man dominating much of the media... its nice and I suppose it gives the novel a depth of sorts, but theres too much of it. It gets irritating and in the way of what Faulks should have been trying to do - writing a bloody thriller.
The parts set in Russia are a huge missed opportunity. It doesn't read like Bond. More like Bond suddenly strolling into someonelse's book. Again, even when Chagrin pops up, you don't feel Bond and Scarlet are in a particularly sticky spot.

This all probably reads like I'm taking a :tup: on Sebastian Faulks from a great height. In fact there are a lot of things aboutt this I loved. The opening chapters (prior to the bleedin' Ekranoyawn) are excellent: The noirish parisian opening, the introduction to an older Bond feeling he's lost his spark. Everything in Paris is superb and drips with sophistication and the faded glamour I love about Fleming. The Tehran club scenes accompnied Darius are sexy, suprising and great fun. Obviously modelled on the Kerim scenes in FRWL and, for me, equally if not more memorable. They are also rather contrived and unimportant to the plot, which is no bad thing. Maybe faulks should have donw more of this... move us away from his pedestrian plot and just have a bit of fun.
I also like his interpretation of Rene Mathis as a wily ols Parisian adulterer. Unsuprisingly, as I say, everything Faulks sets in Paris is far more vibrant than the rest of the book.
The 004 "twist" is transparent from the off, but I think Scarlet is a sexy heroine I'd like to see more of. The "almost but not quite" sex scene in the "Trouser" chapter is very sexy, as is the splendid last few paragraphs. The trouble is that this sexual tension isn't consistent throughout, particularly when she and Bond make their escape through Russia. Two people who fancy each other in peril? Surely theyd be all over each other? Too often she and Bond come across as a pair of slightly flirty urban sophisticates, not two people falling wildly in lust.
And so, even when I try and be nice, and despite being one of the few people who went in to bat for Faulks when people slated the extracts, I find myself being critical. But theres plenty to like about DMC and I can't give it less than 3, perhaps even 3 and a half out of five.
Its not Fleming, but then it was never going to be. I wouldnt recommend it to someone new to Bond literature but any Fleming fan should find plenty to enjoy here as well as plenty to be frustrated by. All in all a bit of a missed opportunity.


That pretty much sums up my own feelings about it, though in far greater depth than I could be bothered to go into! :tup:

One thing though:-
Posted Image
We never do find out Gorners' true reasons for the attack; the anti-British thing was largely Scarletts' invention.



Back to Sebastian Faulks (2008)


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users