Okay, finished it today.
And... well... um... oh, boy...
It´s certainly better than Faulks´ parody (at least "Devil may care" felt like one to me) and more Bondian than Deaver´s frantic re-boot.
What I liked:
- setting it in the original timeline
- showing an older Bond
- the prose, very close in tone to Fleming
What I didn´t like:
- the convoluted plot that had to be explained at the end in a conversation (I thought only bad tv dramas of the 50´s and 60´s did that)
- the very lazily developed plot with so many clichéd elements (the way Bond leaves Africa) and weird choices (the romance with the Vampire movie actress and the reason he leaves her)
- the seriousness of the African interlude (this is, of course, probably only my problem since I prefer Bond not to mesh with the real world, especially not with malnourished children)
Maybe it´s about my expectations again - but I thought, after reading the synopsis, that "Solo" is a story about Bond on a mission in Africa, becoming personally involved so much that he goes rogue. What I found felt more like Bond being sent to Africa, being rather clueless what he is about to do there, being tricked again and again, then solving everything with ideas he got from being in WW2 - and afterwards being rather angry for what has been done to him and going to Washington, stumbling upon the truth, trying an attack without really planning it and getting everything explained in the end, accepting suddenly that he left a very loose end.
Again, this book is really shoddily plotted, as if the author had some great ideas and just wrote everything down without re-considering.
Also, Boyd´s statements in the press about being a better writer than Fleming set the bar so high... I probably had to be disappointed.
Apart from these criticism my personal feeling is that "SOLO" lacks the pulpy fun of Fleming big time. It´s as if Boyd wanted to prove that he can elevate material that is not really up to his standards, only exposing that he is not up to Fleming´s standards.
Bond needs more escapism and fun. And a better, driving plot without too many subplots going nowhere.