Customer Reviews: Dr. No (James Bond - Extended Series Book 6)
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on October 2, 2003
Most of us have seen a James Bond movie at one time or another and enjoyed the outlandish antics in which he participates. However, upon getting my hands on this edition and finishing it in a matter of hours, the movies suddenly hold no appeal. I love the literary Bond! Sure, he's a lecherous alcoholic who smokes 60 cigarettes a day, but that's only during his downtime; when he's on the job, women and booze are secondary. And sure, it's vastly outdated, but the Cold War is still, by far, the best setting for an espionage thriller. The Bond in the novels is a cold cutomer who wouldn't hesitate to kill someone close to him to spare them a worse death (as in the latter part of Live And Let Die). Also, the literary Bond's body is a patchwork of scar tissue, and his handsome features are marred only by a scar on his right cheek.
That said, Fleming's style is great--short and to the point, much the same as his days writing reports during WWII during his stint in the military. His prose isnn't flowery, and it advances the story at a brisk pace.
Dr. No is an excellent turning point for both Fleming and Bond. Fleming killed Bond at the end of From Russia With Love (one report being that he'd tired of the character, but fans clammored for Bond's revival). The events of the previous novel are touched-on briefly in the beginning of the book, but they don't have much bearing on the rest of the story. However, the return of Quarrel (from Live And Let Die) and his loss greatly affects Bond, bringing a depth of character rarely explored by the celluloid Bonds.
Dr. No is a great read of the genre of its time, featuring a dashing secret agent hero, a capable sidekick, a beautiful seashell-hunting love interest, 5-inch tropical poisonous centipedes, flamethrowing dragons, sadistic henchmen, a giant squid (not in the movie!), and of course, Dr. No, the pincer-handed, ultra-rich, ultra-evil, guano-dealing nemesis! Who could ask for anything more?!
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on February 16, 2006
The basic frame of all the James Bond books and movies. It was the book chosen by the owners of the film rights to introduce the character to the screen - and they kept rather close to the essentials ... the tough but sophisticated Bond, the alluring female lead who becomes his companion and usually savior, the gruff but proud M and so on. Probably the best example of the movie being as good as the book - certainly not true of the later cartoonish movies which are seldom as good as the original Fleming stories.
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on September 24, 2013
I decided to get Dr.No on Kindle after reading Thunderball. I was enjoying the book again until half way, when I started seeing the following: #$2013 in the middle of a sentence. This went on the rest of the book, and greatly reduced my enjoyment as sentences were interrupted with this glitch. I purchased another Bond book and hope it does not have similar mistakes in it. The book is still an entertaining read, but the mistakes in print make for annoying distractions.
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on December 12, 2002
This is my favorite James Bond novel. Ian Fleming created a character with a gargantuan appetite for the more worldly pleasures. For a land that could supply our hero with such an appetite Fleming chose his own beloved Jamaica. The melding of the story with the setting is Fleming at his best. Jamaica was a land of beauty, mystery and intrigue. Fleming captured this so well and gave us a remarkable villain to reflect that esoteric quality of the island.
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on April 14, 2003
As most teenagers, I had my "Bond movies phase", renting and watching every movie from Sean Connery through Lazenby, Moore, Dalton and now Brosnan. Even so, I had never read one of Ian Fleming's books, prejudicialy dismissing them as childish and poorly written. After ten years, I found "Doctor No" in a used-books store, and since I made the mistake of thinking this was, like in the movies, the first book of the series, I bought it.
In "Doctor No", James Bond, after a bad mission and spending some time in a hospital, is given a kind of "vacation mission" in Jamaica. He has to discover what happened to the local stationed british secret agent, who is reported missing. When Bond gets there, he is driven towards Crab Key, a misterious island owned by Julius No, a tall, bald maniac for privacy and who is hiding things from jamaican administration.
To my surprise (and showing I was wrong in my prejudices), Fleming is a good writer who can hold the reader's attention at most times. It's just a pity that I didn't begin the series with the first book, "Casino Royale", to see how Fleming developed his writing style, characters and plots while writing the books.
Other surprise was to compare Bond in the books with Bond in the movies. Bond in the books was more human and credible, even to the point of throwing up after moments of extreme tension. Other characters are interesting as well, like nature girl Honey Rider and Bond's friend Quarrell. I also liked to meet again characters like M and Q. Doctor No, though, as everything related to Crab Key island, is a little too fantastic for my taste, but, from the information I gathered, "Doctor No" is Fleming's most "exotic" and implausible book.
The important considerations are that Fleming can create good thrilling scenes, and that James Bond is a better character than I expected. I will surely look for "Casino Royale" and start the series in proper order.
Grade 8.8/10
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on June 11, 2015
I love Ian Fleming's attention to detail, situation and character development. Some of the situations and characters can be gritty and outdated, but still such an exciting and often, sexy story. I really enjoy all this books!
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VINE VOICEon October 10, 2011
I feel like I watched a lot of James Bond movies growing up. But when I go back and watch old James Bond I do not remember many. So maybe I watched the same ones several times?

I have not actually read any of the original books before. Other than the original Jason Bourne books, I have not really read any of the old spy novels. I have enjoyed some of the newer, post-cold war spy novels.

When I saw this on sale, I figured I would give it a try. It was a fairly quick read. I had not watched this movie before I read it (not sure how that happened). The movie and the book were different in several important details. But the book was better than the movie in all the important places.

I have heard that the books are darker than the movies, and that is certainly true. Bond is questioned in the beginning of the book about whether he is up to the task of being a 00 agent. M is more cold and calculating than I remember in any of the movies. Bond drinks as much as the movies, but it seems like he is hiding (and maybe has a drinking problem) in the book.

Like the early movies, the books is suggestively sexy without actually coming out and showing much. Later movies certainly have been more than just suggestive. The book is no more than PG 13 by today's standards.

Bond is a quintessential hero, and I like hero stories. But while I like the more human Bond of this book, I am not sure I am going to read many more. It would make a fine beach read. But not much too it other than that.
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on February 2, 1998
The name of the villain is common word now, and the character itself is legend. Doctor Julius No is a madman with touches of genius, an agent of evil so dangerous to the U.S. rocket programme and the world itself that Bond becomes a giant-size hero just by fighting him. The plot is excellent, but the scenery may be just "too Caribbean" (all those swamps and mosquitoes and bright dry sun) for some readers, not as well handed as in "Live and Let Die" (or perhaps TOO well handed). Strangways is killed and Bond is sent on "vacation" to investigate. Curiously, he has been ill from his previous mission and a "Doctor" seems appropiate, but not the one he's about to encounter. Quarrel, a character introduced in another book, dies and left us missing him. The villain's island has everything a fantastic classic enemy's place needs, including a giant squid for good. The heroine is one of the best in the series. Doctor No's death is shocking and much better than in the film. Finally, that thing with a dragon marauding in the island is masterfully treated with terrific results, keeping suspense up all time. Bond has come of age at this stage.
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on February 28, 2016
I started reading the Flemming Bond novels in the order he wrote them. Each one is great. You gain a much better understanding of Bond through Flemming's writing - so much better than the movie versions. Loved "Dr. No"!!!
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on February 18, 2014
With the séance concluded, we’ll let the shellacking commence. His name is Bond. James Bond. He might drive cars with a speed best reserved for the autobahn, and he might refer to women as girls, and he might have trouble keeping his penis in his pants, and the comma in his hair might be best reserved for a male underwear model by the name of Sergei, who hails from the cold war, and fights crime on the government’s dime. But like any good government agent, he sometimes shows a certain amount of ineptness in the face of impeding danger.

He has too many near-death experiences to list, and his list of conquests might be best reserved for the bathroom stall at the local truck stop. Even if we’re the ones that are supposed to have a good time, it sometimes feels like you’re punching a time clock and staring at a dark spot on the concrete wall while you bide your time waiting to make your grand exit from the funhouse.

I’ve found I like myself better when I don’t read too many Bond books in a row, otherwise your Dr. Yes might turn into DR. NO. You might even be prone to screaming and cold bouts of terror and little green men in dark suits and sunglasses might come to take you away, or toss your body out to sea to swim with the fishes.

Dammit Dennis, I started writing the wrong review. I’m supposed to like this book, and I certainly do. But there are certainly a few problems that have caused me to dig in my heels and question the exact limitations of my sanity. First, the women. I feel like I have the script to the next episode of America’s Next Top Model complete with knife-wielding women and machine gun brasseries. The villains sometimes exhibit a bit of cartoonishness in their evilness, and I found myself dancing away from the swarm of centipedes headed in my direction, most of whom probably had poisonous pincers, or at least the appearance of such. The profuse sweating congregated on my chin, and the sight of myself in a mirror nearly caused me to shed my skin.

But Bond wouldn’t be Bond without a certain amount of male charm and chauvinism that saw its best days in the dark ages. His confidence marches onward without question, and the action plays out at more of a silent movie pace with the screams held on the inside.

My love-hate relationship with Bond continues onward and possibly upward, and I shall let a bit more time pass before I constipate myself with the next installment.

As far as where this book falls within the first six installments of said series, I don’t really feel qualified to make such judgments. But I can tell you I liked it better than FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE without thinking too terribly hard about it.

Robert Downs
Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
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