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ChickenStu on Higson's Young Bond

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#1 ChickenStu



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Posted 05 July 2014 - 07:30 PM



Simply amazing. Higson COMPLETELY embarrasses Gardner and Benson with this absolutely FLAWLESS adventure. He creates a brilliant new version of Our Man. Higson's Young Bond is completely believable - totally human and never EVER ONCE feels like a lame caricature. It's the same with his delightfully written sidekick Red Kelly. 

Randolph Hellebore is a shockingly evil villain for a kid's book. Totally devoid of compassion or mercy. He is written chillingly and actually kind of freaked me out!

His scheme at Loch SilverFin is dastardly and quite surprising in it's evil ferocity. Imaginative, offbeat... very frightening. It's interesting how his son George Hellebore is also set up to a villain - yet becomes more sympathetic over the course of the story. Intriguingly his character arc in this tale mirrors Bond's in a way in that they must both overcome their fears and find the hero inside themselves to defeat Randolph Hellebore's brutal endgame. This subtle exploration of duality was refreshing and unexpected. 

The characters of Aunt Charmain and Uncle Max are warm, avuncular and very comforting - and I loved the appearance of May (a certain Scottish housekeeper that all fans our Our Man's literary adventures have come to know and love). 

It's action packed, it's gritty, it's FUNNY.... it's scary (I loved the character of Auger Hellebore, Randolph's unfortunate brother... he reminded me a bit of Sloth in The Goonies) it just does not hit one wrong note. At all. Ever. And the ending... oh wow. Just PERFECT.

I cannot think of one thing wrong with this book. Not one thing. Higson is the best since Fleming. Bar none. I really really cannot praise this wonderful book highly enough. Simply breathtaking. Awe inspiring. 

This made the trawl through Gardner and Benson totally worth it - to get to this stage. To think it's a kid's book! Us adults are getting those dreary Fleming-lite literary dirges... and the kids are getting THIS! 

I really became a fan of Charlie Higson today. Bravo. It just doesn't get any better than this. 

Edited by ChickenStu, 08 July 2014 - 10:02 AM.

#2 ChickenStu



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Posted 06 July 2014 - 11:31 AM

Blood Fever


Another flawless tale set in the gorgeous sunny backdrop of Sardinia. Ugo Carniflex and Zoltar are interesting, layered and well characterized bad guys. Their obsession with the kidnapped Amy Goodenough - and her changing custody between them is an interesting plot development. As is the idea of Young Bond simply being caught in the middle of it all rather than being an aggressor, or antagonist for events (as he so often is in other Bond fiction.)

I really enjoyed the epic scope of the story. Eccentric artists, ancient blood feuds, secret societies within Eton (The Danger Society) and outside of Eton in Sardinia (Milleneria), torture by mosquito - there's always something to keep it fresh and interesting. Also the character of Vendetta - the Sardinian child assassin with a crush on Bond - is simply wonderful. I loved the scene where she leads a rescue mission to get Our Man (Our Boy?) out of enemy clutches. 


Higson really is a wonderful writer. Truly wonderful. His prose is simplistic but that is not a criticism. On the contrary - its what makes these books work. He writes with confidence and assurance - perhaps knowing to simply trust the story to be good enough without having to add any unnecessary bells and whistles. Despite it's fairly straightforward nature it is never boring nor never feels stale. I think a reader trusts that because it enables us to completely put ourselves in Higson's hands and trust him to take us wherever he wants us to go. During the course of the story I could help but constantly marvel about how beautifully Higson writes.


With Gardner and Benson - when I got to the last half inch of the book I was always finding myself racing to get to the end just to get the damn thing finished. That is not the case with Higson. He draws you so easily into his wonderfully constructed world that the book is finished before you know it and just constantly want more and more and more.

Charlie Higson truly is a stunning writer. I really cannot praise the man highly enough.


I'm a big reader and read books (fiction and non-fiction) on a wide variety of subjects and by many a varied author. But I haven't come across a talent like Higson in quite a while.  

Edited by ChickenStu, 06 July 2014 - 11:32 AM.

#3 ChickenStu



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Posted 08 July 2014 - 10:01 AM

Double Or Die 


Another cracking adventure. Nice to see Our Boy's classmates in on the action. Charnage was wonderfully written. Pitiful, pathetic yet still dangerous. Wolfgang and Ludwig were hilariously unfortunate henchman (especially with the latter's unlucky habit of losing body parts!). 

I love again how Higson's simplistic style helps to navigate the reader through a story that is in fact remarkably complex. Despite everything that's going on - the reader never loses narrative bearing. This book has it all. Hidden codes designed to rescue a kidnapped professor, secret decoding machines... an action packed climax on the London Docklands... this is just GREAT STUFF! 

Also, lovely to see the return of Red Kelly and to meet his rambunctious clan. Higson is the master. Utter brilliance.


Hurricane Gold 


The best one yet! El Huricane' is the most layered, complex and interesting villain I've come across in a non-Fleming Bond yet. I love his secret haven where criminals can stay and never leave (unless they want to do a deadly assault course) utterly inspired. 

Mrs Glass and Strabo are classic boo hiss despicable henchmen. Sakata's unexpected character arc very satisfying. I also found Manny pitifully hilarious. Walking around with half his brain hanging out - not knowing where he is from one minute to the next - he bought a bit of dark humour into the tale that was very welcome. 

As it is - just magnificent. With Our boy trying to navigate Precious and JJ through a hurricane ravaged island, dodging criminal gangs and deadly beasties - and the heart stopping climax - it is just superior entertainment. This is the best book in the series in my opinion.


By Royal Command 


I simply do not know where to begin. A rousing curtain closer. Due to the nature of some of the revelations in the story I'll not say too much as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I will say though that this finale to Bond's years at Eton is immensely satisfying.  Action packed, full of plot twists and surprisingly moving. Higson seems to understand how kids think pretty well - and his description of how it feels for Our Boy to fall in love for the first time is pretty on the money. Anyone who can remember being a teenager will know where Higson is coming from. 

This brings the five book story arc full circle in a way I didn't actually expect. Simply wonderful as are all the books in Higson's series. Now that I'm done I shall miss these books a great deal. 

Charlie Higson is one tough act to follow. I do not envy the task that lays ahead of Steve Cole! 


Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier 


A Hard Man To Kill 


A punchy little short story. Lovely to see the return of Wilder Lawless and fun to see a young Rene Mathis. Great ending too!

#4 Major Tallon

Major Tallon

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 07:18 PM

I'm glad you enjoyed these, ChickenStu.  I think they're brilliantly done.  There are also some clever little bits that you have to look closely to notice.  For example, there's the mention of "The Mighty Donovan" in chapter 11 of Silverfin, which readers might recognize as a reference to chapter 2 of FRWL.


Quite clever, in fact.

#5 ChickenStu



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Posted 09 July 2014 - 07:56 AM

I'll have to have a look at that Major Tallon. Thanks for the reply.


And yes - they are BRILLIANTLY done! I'd go as far as to call them incredible.