Book Review: You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

December 1, 2016

You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming is the 11th novel featuring the famous British agent James Bond, 007. The book was published in 1964 and is the last one to be published while Mr. Fleming was still alive.

  • 255 pages
  • Publisher: MJF Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156731080X


WARNING: Spoilers ahead

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My rating for You Only Live Twice3
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You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming is a sad book. Mr. Fleming realized that after World War II, England was no longer the world power it once was and lets it all out on the page in a dialog which must have been torturous to write between Bond and the head of the Japanese Secret Service.

The novel is the last one in the Blofeld Trilogy (along with Thunderball, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and starts where On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ended, with Bond mourning the loss of Tracy, his wife. I can certainly forgive the preposterous plot and gloss over quips made during a different time, but there was one point which was so ludicrous I couldn’t ignore that, frankly, ruined much of the book for me. James Bond, meticulous specimen of England, goes successfully undercover as a Japanese man by… darkening his skin and shaving his eyebrows – even I couldn’t see that happening.

I feel as if in this novel, the reader got to know more about Bond than all the other ones combined. At first we meet a broken man, who turns into a ruthless killer bent on revenge, towards the end we read M’s touching obituary, in which we learn more about the character.

The book, once again, ends with a cliffhanger which actually made me want to start the next one almost immediately. Regardless of the issues, much like other books in the series, this one is also fun, but not as fast a ride as the others.

James Bond, a broken man, let his life and work slide but gets a last-chance to redeem his downward spiraling career by being assigned a diplomatic task.  But nothing is simple in the Secret Service and Bond is handed an impossible assignment, to convince Tiger Tanaka, head of the Japanese Secret Service, to provide Britain with capture Soviet radio transmissions.

Bond soon finds out that he has nothing to bargain with his Japanese counterpart except his skills as an assassin, when Mr. Tanaka asks him to kill Dr. Shatterhand, who is a political embarrassment to Japan. Bond discovers that the doctor is his old enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld and gladly accepts the assignment.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bought this book.
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