What a month August has been. We went through a Cold War-like scenario with North Korea, Sonic Mania was released, and plans for a marriage equality postal vote in Australia were rolled out. What’s even bigger though is my list of stories I’ve read this month. Holy crap, I never expected to read as much as I did this month. It’s because of this that I will split this month’s Book Talk in two: part one today (September 1st) and part two tomorrow (September 2nd). So with no further delay, let’s go on a journey, from the Earth to the Moon with James Bond in tow.
Water of a Dragon’s Back by KE Fraser
This is the second part of my review of this book (you can find the first part here).
Compared to the first book in the series (Through the Fig Tree), Water off a Dragon’s Back isn’t as good. I found the pacing of this book to be slow, which benefited the first book, but not this one. Apart from Daniel and Violet I didn’t really connect with the other characters and found some a little bland in the end.
Negatives aside though this is still an alright book. This is a really good conclusion to the story of Daniel and Violet and is certainly full of interesting action scenes. The final battle especially I found to be a lot of fun and certainly had a fulfilling wrap-up.
The Realm of the Lilies is certainly a nice little series from an emerging author. Through the Fig Tree was a great start and Water off a Dragon’s Back is a good conclusion. If you liked book one then this is a go to read.
The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming
James this extraordinary 00 agent from Britain’s MI6 who loves beating bad guys, drinking, and seducing women. So a question comes up: what’s the life of one of these Bond girls like? If you ever wanted to know, it’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Seems like a good premise and something different from 007, correct? Well… no, it isn’t.
Where do I even begin? Oh yes, it’s about the most unBond James Bond novel from the original creator, Ian Fleming. The story is told through the eyes of Vivienne “Viv” Michel, a French Canadian who’s about one of the unluckiest women in the world. Two-thirds of this novel just drags through her life story, from Montreal to England, then to the United States. In all this we witness her be forced into sex and be humiliated by everyone. All of this stuff and looking into her life was all extremely long-winded and almost cringeworthy.
James Bond himself doesn’t even make an appearance until the last third of this book. It’s from there that things get more interesting. We at last get to see what it’s really like to be with Bond from the female perspective, but it’s still pretty stupid. Viv in this time still feels two dimensional and just there to have sex with, rather than anything meaningful at all.
All of these issues stem from one issue: Fleming couldn’t write female characters. I commend him for giving this a try, but it’s piss poor, even by early 1960s standards. There was so much potential here, but it all got wrecked by poor character creation.
The only redeeming factors I can find overall with this read is that it was pretty quick to read. It took me about a week to read this book, which is thanks to the tight, fast paced writing and my desire to finish it. It’s also redeeming that the adaptation starring Roger Moore of this book is very loose, meaning many fans were saved from the awfulness of this one’s protagonist.
The Spy Who Loved Me is not only the worst Bond book I’ve ever read, but the worst book I’ve read since starting up Book Talk. James Bond is a legend of popular culture, both in literature and in film, but he can’t save this book. Avoid this one as much as you possibly can.
From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
From Earth to the Moon is quite possibly one of the eeriest stories to be created in terms of accuracy. First published in the 1860s, this book said men from America would travel to the moon from Florida, which is what exactly happened in July 1969. Yeah, they used rockets rather than a gigantic cannon but the idea is the same. It’s this sort of imagination which is why caught my interest with this story.
If there’s one thing I have to be critical about it’s the characters. There were many characters and none of them caught my attention too much. Yeah, it was interesting to see a Frenchmen with the Americans launching from the cannon, but apart from that they just were there in the story rather than the story itself.
While nowhere near as memorable as other works of Verne like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon is still an interesting story that I really enjoyed. There’s a lot of imagination to be found in this, even if the characters aren’t great. Give this a read if you’re curious in classic sci-fi.
You can access Book Talk: August 2017 Part Two here.