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The Young Bond Series, Book Three Double or Die (A James Bond Adventure) Hardcover – April 22, 2008
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Kidnapping. Explosions. Murder. This is no ordinary weekend. But then, James Bond is no ordinary boy...
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Thematically, Double or Die is an adventure of the mind. Bond and his band of friends must decrypt puzzles and clues contained within a mysterious cipher sent by a kidnapped professor. Higson plays the motif throughout as references to skulls and the brain abound. Where Blood Fever was bright and expansive, Double or Die is dark and contained. While this may make it a lesser Bondian adventure for some, the smaller scale allows Higson to work in greater texture and detail, making Double or Die the most vivid and visual of all the Young Bond novels to date. It's also the Young Bond novel that showcases its 1930s setting the best as Higson peppers the book with delightful period slang and long forgotten brand names.
The body count in Double or Die is lower than Blood Fever, but Higson doesn't skimp on the gore, especially during the terrific climax on the London Docklands and inside an abandon pneumatic railway (wonderful Bondian locations both). The fact that the henchmen comes away from each encounter with Young Bond missing another body part is grisly good fun. Higson adds a surprising postscript to this book that is unlike anything that has yet appeared in a Young Bond novel. I will leave it to the reader to discover it, and decide whether it belongs in the Young Bond universe.
Absence of a Bond Girl (or any female for that matter) is missed during the first two thirds of the book, but the arrival of the perfectly named Kelly Kelly and her "Monstrous Regiment" (a sort of cockney street urchin version of Pussy Galore's Flying Circus) is a highlight of the final third. Higson again toys with romance, but one gets a sense he's nervous about scaring off his youngest male readers. At the risk of getting a schoolyard beating, I admit that I'm looking forward to the "love story" Higson promises will feature in his fifth Young Bond novel, By Royal Command (due for release in the UK in September).
The measure of any James Bond continuation novel, and novelist, is how they compare with Fleming. Charlie Higson matched Fleming with the excellent Blood Fever. Now, with the complex and thrilling Double or Die, Higson appears to be steering the Young Bond series toward even higher literary achievement.
This book has been one of the best books I've read so far.
I have been reading this series and this book is one of my favorites. It keeps you on your toes though out most of the book, and when it's not, you can tell its right around the corner. Sometimes the plot twists are a bit too predictable. The story progresses quite nicely; in the beginning it gives you little bits and pieces of the story, exploring the third person limited views of three different characters. Obviously, the main character is a young James Bond who has a very adventurous spirit and a weak spot for danger, so he's always getting into sticky situations. These situations are always able to be solved by James and some of his friends, like his friend Pritpal who gets dragged into this adventure and has to assist James in this suspenseful journey. Like when they have to venture into a grave yard at night to look for clues left by the professor, who has been kidnapped, leading them to his location. James and Pritpal get separated and he ends up in a place where he has become an urban legend. All the people in the town were willing to help him, because they had heard about the heroic feats that he had accomplished. Like when he took down a dictator that was being a stereo-typical dictator and pretending to do good for the people but is really taking all the wealth for himself and his close friends. James was able to make the entire empire collapse by sabotaging one of the dictators plans for complete control, not to mention the dam that he caused to fall on the dictators house. Overall I thought this was a great book for intermediate readers looking for a, "keep you on your toes," kind of novel. I can't recall any serious spelling or grammatical errors, so very well written and revised. I definitely recommend this book to almost everybody.
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This is one of my mosr favorite book ever