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The Young Bond Series, Book One Silverfin (A James Bond Adventure) Hardcover – April 28, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–Meet Bond–James Bond–at 14, before he became the suave, lady-killing international spy. An orphan, he attends Eton and lives with his Aunt Charmian during school breaks. While the premise for this prequel sounds intriguing, it fails to deliver. Action, adventure, and mystery are not a part of the plot until the end. While visiting his dying Uncle Max in Scotland, James discovers that his enemy at Eton, George Hellebore, is visiting his father, Lord Randolph, who owns the castle in the same town. On the train to Scotland, James met Red Kelly and learned that Red's cousin Alphie is missing. Rumor has it he disappeared near Loch Silverfin, which is part of the Hellebore estate. It doesn't take long for James and Red to determine that Alphie's disappearance is connected to the castle. Red Kelly, Meatpacker, Wilder Lawless, and her horse, Martini, are interesting and quirky characters while James is positively dull. He is merely a part of the plot instead of a driving force. The book may appeal to serious Bond fans, but for students who are looking for mystery and adventure, Anthony Horowitz's "Alex Rider" books (Philomel) are a better choice.–Angela M. Boccuzzi-Reichert, Merton Williams Middle School, Hilton, NY

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. The name's the same--Bond, James Bond. But the face is different. And no wonder: the late Ian Fleming's fabled superspy is only 14 years old in this newly launched, lavishly promoted, high-concept series. Higson struggles heroically to incorporate all Fleming's trademark ingredients. There's a ravishing heroine (who rides a horse named Martini); a larger-than-life villain (a wealthy American with large, flashing white teeth who is "mad, I tell you, mad"); and lots of melodramatic nonsense about eels and eugenics. The problem is that young Bond is a bit of a cipher, and the story takes forever to get going. Then once things heat up, they go on too long and, worse, too predictably. Part of the problem is endemic to all new series: the need to establish characters, background, etc. But one hopes that Higson will give more attention, in future volumes, to fresher plotting and fleshing out the character of his hero. Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: A James Bond Adventure (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax Books; First Edition edition (April 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078683661X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786836611
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
SilverFin by Charlie Higson puts the pleasure in pleasure reading. It is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. I stayed up very late on many school nights reading it because I couldn't put it down. It is a very addictive book. I've read six James Bond novels by Ian Fleming in my time and I enjoyed reading SilverFin more than some of them. Mr. Higson is a fantastic author because he writes with great detail, his writing style makes the story very easy to comprehend, and it is evident that he did much research. SilverFin started off the Young Bond™ series very nicely with a perfect introduction to James Bond's formative years.

I liked how Higson made James weak in the beginning and made him grow tougher as the story progressed. James was vulnerable and scared of bullies in the beginning but that all changed at the end of the story. I am eager to see more evolution in young James as the series continues. I am a little disappointed that James wiped off the kiss he received from Wilder Lawless because at thirteen years old a boy should not believe in "cooties" anymore. When I was thirteen years old I was kissing girls but maybe it was different in the 1930s but I doubt that. I would have expected James Bond to enjoy that kiss even at thirteen. Isn't this the same James Bond that lost his virginity at sixteen, only three years later, to a prostitute in Paris? I was also a little disappointed by James' group of friends at Eton. To me they came off as the school "rejects" but I guess that Higson wanted to show us that James is an outsider, which makes sense. James' friend, Red Kelly, is a good character. He is important to the plot and also a source of comic relief, which got annoying at some parts.

I enjoyed learning about James Bond's family.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book at the library and decided to preview it before recommending it to my 11-year-old son. So glad I did! It is a good story, well written, etc., but other reviewers have covered that. What bothers me is the recommended age level. Here in the description on Amazon, it lists grades 5-8. But the "technical" portion of the listing says young adult. Young adult is the category that should contain this book, not juvenile. Sure, it doesn't contain sexual scenes or foul language. But it does contain detailed descriptions of animal cruelty, descriptions of killer eels mauling a young boy and a man, a mutant eel/man creature, and discussions of germocide, chemical warfare, and biological experiments. It's really scary, disturbing material, and it would bother a whole lot of kids in the 11-12 year old group. It bothered me enough to stop reading even though I was nearing the end of the book. I just didn't want those images in my head....and the story wasn't compelling enough to make me want to find out what would happen to James Bond.

Please don't get this for your young kids. It is definitely more appropriate for teens and adults.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Critics complained that John Gardner and Raymond Benson could never step free of the shadow of Ian Fleming in their 007 "continuation novels." The good news is Charlie Higson has finally stepped clear of that shadow...the bad news is he's landed squarely in the shadow of J.K. Rowling. Parts of SilverFin read a bit too much like a Harry Potter clone, and while this may please the pre-teen target audience, it may make Young Bond Book #1 a tough read for the more seasoned James Bond fan. (But make sure you read this review to the end -- it get's better.)

After a thrilling opening prologue that would not be out of place in a legitimate...err, I mean, adult James Bond novel, we meet young Bond as he arrives at Eton in the 1930s (kudos to Higson and the copyright holders for making these books period). Like Potter, James is an orphan sent to a school filled with eccentric headmasters, odd slang, and old rituals. Like Potter, he is polite and self-effacing. For much of the novel he is really an observer of more talkative and flamboyant characters. In what is certainly a low point of young Bond's masculine development, Wilder Lawless, the spunky "girl" of the story, wrestles him to the ground and shoves leaves into his mouth. This is clearly NOT Fleming's Bond. It's not even Roger Moore's Bond. But know this is also by design...

It's no spoiler to say Young Bond #1 is a story of transformation and that, by the end of the novel, the timid boy has found his 007 steel and menace via his harrowing experience on Loch Silverfin. If nothing else, this book HAD to be that. And when Bond finally shakes off his yammering Potteresque companions, the action of the final third of the book is downright thrilling!
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Format: Hardcover
Thoughtfully written and engaging, "Silverfin" doesn't take the easy way out and simply present a younger version of the glamourous and lethal James Bond of the movies. In other words, the 13 year-old Bond seen here isn't chasing his female classmates, sneaking vodka martinis, and killing thugs left and right. Quite the contrary, he's quiet, well mannered, still lonely from the recent death of his parents, and just wanting to get along and make friends at his new boarding school.

No doubt this sensitive, understated portrayal is due to the fact that author Charlie Higson is a fan of Ian Fleming's Bond novels, and in those novels Bond was never the ruthless killer and incessant womanizer of the movies. Rather, he was a decent sort who preferred to perform his assignments without fanfare and, if possible, without violence. And while Fleming's Bond certainly had girlfriends and relationships, usually it was the women who eventually left him: by ultimately seeking out "safer" men or (in two of the novels) dying in Bond's arms.

"Silverfin", then, shows in an entertaining fashion the genesis of the gentlemanly, professional, and worldly agent of the Fleming novels. It does so by introducing us to young Bond's early personal mentors (his delightful aunt and uncle, primarily) and showing us how those mentors stoked Bond's inherent personal strengths and talents. We then see young Bond use those strengths and talents as he takes on the first nemesis of his career, the mysterious and dangerous Lord Hellebore.

Though officially a "novel for young people", there's enough shading and subtlety to the characterizations and enough true danger in "Silverfin" that adults will enjoy the ride, too. I know I did.
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