Friday, February 24, 2017

Good Books for the Next Generation: Young James Bond

In the spirit of my previous post on Hans Schantz's excellent The Hidden Truth we turn to another good book for young people, the first volume  of the "Young Bond" series, SilverFin by Charlie Higson.

When my son checked this out of the school library I was mildly interested, having very much enjoyed the original series by the great Ian Fleming, but since it was published in 2009 I assumed it was either dumbed down, "politically corrected" or, Lord help us, both. However, he and I regularly talk about the books he reads and he was very positive about this one, so I decided I'd read it, too.

What a revelation. Not only is the book not PC'd at all, it's realistic about life, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It retains a hint of the menace of Fleming's world, the fact that all endings aren't happy and sometimes good people are hurt and killed by evil. Most especially, it emphasizes the importance of mental toughness, "grit" as the current term has it, planning, intelligence and courage as the ingredients of fighting and winning. It's a book about a winner, and why he is such.

I don't give story retellings or plot details in my reviews, but Higson has caught the spirit of Fleming with the larger-than-life villain(s), the touch of the grotesque and the science fictional, and the inexorable determination of the Bond character. The details of the Britain of the 1930s, the ins and outs of Eton and the class-consciousness seem well done to this American reader.

Mr. Higson has followed up SilverFin with four more volumes in the series. Volume 2, Blood Fever, is in my stack and I'm interested to see if it can stand up to his first effort. In any case, I found SilverFin to be a big, pleasant surprise. Quite entertaining, it also illustrates the kind of toughness and character that I think the readers here want in their children. seemingly aimed at the 10-15 age group, but you adults would probably enjoy it, too!

No comments: