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Solo: A James Bond Novel (James Bond Novels (Paperback)) Paperback – June 3, 2014

3.4 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Solo never fails to keep the reader on the edge of his chair. . . . Boyd is a brilliant storyteller and the interwoven plots and surprises of Solo are often superior to Fleming’s own narrative stunts.” (The Daily Beast)

“A light, slick, sinuous adventure. . . . Though Boyd’s iteration of the character owes something to Graham Greene’s moral melancholy, Fleming’s Bond remains recognizable. So does the excellent pacing: Solo feels so quick that it could already be a movie.” (USA Today)

“Boyd has immersed himself in the character, the author and his oeuvre and come up with an adventure that’s triumphantly the equal of the great Bond adventures. . . . A brilliant imitation that’s occasionally superior to the prototype.” (Robert McCrum, The Guardian)

“Boyd brings back the real Bond, triumphantly. . . . A formidable literary achievement. . . . It succeeds wonderfully.” (The Daily Mail)

“A perfectly judged narrative tempo . . . . The action is expertly plotted. . . . Solo’s true literary craft lies in the subtlety of its correspondences and also the suspenseful quality that keeps us on our toes until the closing pages. Mission accomplished.” (The Financial Times)

“Breathtaking. . . . Boyd manages to enrich and refresh a character we thought we knew too well. . . . A terrific twisting thriller. . . . A tremendous Bond story.” (The Sunday Times)

“A compulsively readable thriller, replicating the cocktail of ingredients that got Fleming’s readers hooked and yet to let the cracks in the fantasy figure show through. A thoroughly rewarding, entertaining and ultimately thought provoking fix.” (GQ)

“More than half a century on, Boyd proves that there are plenty of pages left in 007’s passport. I doubt his creator could have done it better.” (Olen Steinhauer, The New York Times Book Review)

“An exhilarating tightrope of a tale that’s also just retro enough to conjure the original books. . . . Boyd adroitly captures the postcolonial atmosphere of West Africa with a Graham Greene-like eye for detail. . . . Boyd has rendered his Bond perfectly.” (Valerie Plame, O magazine)

“The prose of Boyd is frankly superior to that of Fleming. . . . A bloody good thriller. A triumph.” (The Observer)

Solo includes faint echoes of Joseph Conrad, whose stories of adventure, intrigue and espionage are deeply infused with a sense of moral inquiry and consequence. . . . A Bond novel but also a Boyd one, with richer and deeper concerns coursing alongside the Flemingesque flourishes that should keep fans satisfied, as well.” (The Washington Post)

“William Boyd understands his man very well. . . . This is Bond done right.” (The Atlantic)

“Boyd’s prose is crisp and clean, and the story fairly ricochets through its twists and turns as Bond zips from London to Africa and on to the US. Fans of the original Fleming novels will find much to enjoy.” (The Irish Times)

About the Author

William Boyd is also the author of A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys War Prize and short-listed for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year; Ordinary Thunderstorms; and Waiting for Sunrise, among other books. He lives in London.


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Product Details

  • Series: James Bond Novels (Paperback)
  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062223135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062223135
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (301 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This addition to the Bond series sees it taken back to 1969. Bond is sent to a west African country to assassinate a rebel leader. After some mis-adventures there the action moves to Washington DC where plot is unravelled.

This is not a bad story, better than Sebastian Faulks effort but I did enjoy Jefferey Deavers book which I would put on a par with this.

The positive for me is that Boyd has made the effort to write in the style of Ian Fleming, we have a Bond who is not a superman just good at his job. The plot itself is reasonable, a bit anti-American in my opinion or very cynical at least if taken against the back drop of recent world events.

The two main negatives for me are his first love interest. I won't mention why because others are to read the book but once its read I think it will be apparent. The second is Bond's use of one of the modern rap singers favourite words. This particular word is one of my favourites as well but I really don't see the need for Bond to be using it now after 50 plus years of not needing to.

All in all a good adventure, not great but some good escapisim and thats why I have read these books for forty years.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a fan of William Boyd's writing and was delighted to hear he had been selected as the writer for this important Bond novel. Which makes the actual result extra disappointing.

This is a book of three bits, Bond in London post a birthday celebration. Bond on a mission in Africa and Bond going solo in the US. It's a short book at just over 300 pages.

We have to remember this is about the Bond that Fleming gave us, not the film and not as depicted in the Gardiner or Benson books. Important to remember that Fleming's books were set a long time ago and did not have the pace of more modern thrillers. Having said that, Boyd commits two serious errors, he fails to get inside Bond's personality and, worse of all, he makes the book boring.

William Boyd is a brilliant writer and manages to make his characters incredibly vivid and real and he certainly knows how to move a plot. But here he fails to open up Bond as a person and almost makes him a hard drinking civil servant - no sense that he is a killer. And likewise he fails to make this a page turner or populate it with interesting characters. It's not an awful copy of Fleming's work but he fails to get to the essence of the fact that Fleming's books were actually exciting! The book has many flaws and inconsistencies and is a weak addition to the Bond heritage. I had so high hopes for this and am astonished at being so under-whelmed by this effort from such a talented author.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I had no intention of reading this book, but I received it for Christmas. Once again an author proves there was only one Ian Fleming. This meandering and tedious novel involves a character named James Bond, off on an adventure in 1969 Africa that no one - M, Bond, or the author - seems to have thought through. Once again there is a lot of "stage Bond" (as M called it in "The Man With the Golden Gun") consisting of detailed meals and occasional references to incidents in Flemings' novels, but it all lacks what Kingsley Amis called "the Fleming Effect". Author William Boyd mechanically puts this cardboard character through his (really boring) paces.

The plot - and I'm being generous here - is a mess. Boyd spends the early part of the novel concocting a coincidence so huge you know it cannot be a coincidence, only to reveal that it is indeed a coincidence. And then, later in the book, he does it again! Another unbelievable coincidence so huge it boggles the mind. I suppose it is possible that Mr. Boyd was making some sort of sly joke about Goldfinger's "happenstance, coincidence, enemy action" rule, but if that is the case, it falls flat and amounts only to a colossal waste of the reader's time. When Bond does get a mission, his instructions are so vague that you feel that the author just wanted to get him to Africa, which is Mr. Boyd's usual novelistic theater of operations, and figured a plot would present itself. It never really does. Bond gets a chance to be Henry Stanley, then the Duke of Wellington, then Phillip Marlowe, but never, ever the James Bond of Fleming's novel. And Mr. Boyd seems to have been carrying a torch for Ingrid Pitt these past 40 years.

This book's surprises never are: everything is telegraphed far in advance.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're going to (allegedly) make a claim that your own writing is better than Ian Fleming's; then have the courage to retract your statement when your work fails to live up to the potential.

Solo is a James Bond adventure that will polarize fans. Some will hate to love it, or love to hate it. William Boyd was given the chance to take a beloved character and put him in a great concept and in a great adventure. Instead, Boyd creates a tedious Bond set out on a tedious mission he nor his government has no business getting involved in the first place. The actual reason for Bond going to Africa, which is explained toward the end of the book...if anyone gets that far...is kind of astonishing in an appalling way.

To be honest it left me thinking why bother? Other deals could have been made by better representatives. The idea of stopping a war seemed good on paper, but put into practice loses plausibility when it's enacted out on the pages.

Another aspect I absolutely loathed was Boyd's flagrant misuse of Bond's treatment of alcohol. Boyd has the gall to turn Bond into a full on alcoholic and I am not ok with this. Albeit there have been times where Bond has used alcohol as a crutch to keep his demons at bay, Fleming, Gardner, Benson, Faulks and even Deaver would always have Bond recover and come back to his senses. Whereas Boyd just sends his Bond right over the edge; simply because he can.

Shame on you and your arrogance William Boyd. You knew better.

It would be a great shame to let William Boyd continue on writing Bond novels. He has no grasp of the character, no idea of the world James Bond lives in. He has no business with this franchise at all. Hopefully and thankfully Solo was a one shot deal and we can all expect a much better author to take the reigns for a much much better outing.
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