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You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

You Only Live Twice (1964)

by Ian Fleming

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
The one or two other Ian Fleming Bond novels I've read were not much fun - boring and unconvincing - but I did enjoy this. The setup is preposterous, but the narration moves along quickly enough. I can see why this is often described as the best of the original Bond books. Fleming wrote the book in the final year of his life, during a time of failing health, and it has greater depth than earlier novels. It also involves an extended conversation between Bond and 'Tiger' Tanaka, head of a Japanese intelligence unit, which is really a commentary on Britain's sense of its decline as a world power. The weary sadness of those chapters makes it easier to look past the implicit imperialism that is baked into the character and perhaps the genre. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jun 30, 2014 |
Rating: 3.5* of five

1967's film version of the book apparently kept nothing to speak of from the book's plot, little enough of the characters, and broke new ground in space science, if only physics would agree to operate by Bondiverse rules. So that raises the question:

What the actual fuck. Undetectable space launches from a densely packed island nation famous then as now for being xenophobic? Volcanos hollowed out and repurposed because they're extinct and then *KERPOW* they blow up on cue? The sorriest ninjas on record being trained in what appears to be a suburban garden?

Yeesh. No wonder Sean Connery was ready to leave the role after this turkey.

You might have noticed that Connery is, by Western standards, a large man. Tall. Muscular. Imposing. And he's now going to pretend to be Japanese. Forty-five years ago, there were very few Japanese men over 6ft tall. To the best of my knowledge, there are to this good moment a vanishingly small number of Japanese men with Scottish accents and furry chests. So when Bond is presented as a native husband for a local girl WITH HER OWN HOME AND BOAT, I rolled my eyes so hard I'm pretty sure I saw my brain. Like every damn single man on that island wouldn't be all up in Bond's business from second one, seeing as how he nabbed the most eligible woman in Japan!

So it sounds like 3.5 stars is ridiculously generous, doesn't it? There are reasons: 1) Bond's death scene at the beginning of the movie. So cool I get frostbite from watching it. 2) Blofeld's big blond henchrat. Scenic. 3) The Toyota 2000GT that Bond's first gal-pal drives:

Über cool car. And, trivia for the five of you still reading this, Toyota delivered the car to the filmmakers a couple weeks before shooting. Connery did not fit in the vehicle. At all. Toyota's staff said, "oh no, so sorry, we'll fix it" and they DID. I am constantly amazed that this level of customer service ever existed on the surface of the earth.

The house I live in presently was built in 1938. It's got golden oak floors, painted baseboards, dentilated crown moldings...very NOT 1960s decor. The films have reminded me of the ocean of blond wood, teak, copper, and faux stone that permeated the built environment of the day. Glass tables, horrible things they were too. An amazing number of ceramic lamps with cylindrical paper shades. As familiar to me as my beard, but not today's design vernacular by any stretch. I wonder, is it off-putting or old-fashioned looking to kids of the 1980s? (Kids HA most of y'all got kids of your own now.)

So at least one star added for taking me right back into a world I liked a lot, because it was the first one I ever knew. It had its charms. I prefer today, but that doesn't lessen the draw of a familiar past. That's a big part of the fun I get from rewatching these films.

ETA The song! I forgot to mention Nancy Sinatra's rendition of "You Only Live Twice", a syrupy ballad with a screechy violin hook that embeds itself in the brain extremely deeply. The hook is played over a lot of lovely scenery shots, so repetition does its ugly work. Still, it's nowhere near as horrible as the Tom Jones rendition of "Thunderball." That is just heinous. ( )
  richardderus | Dec 11, 2013 |
I read this a very long time ago, shortly after it was published. ( )
  auntieknickers | Aug 28, 2013 |
my edition Pan X434, 1966
  Georges_T._Dodds | Mar 30, 2013 |
“You only live twice:
Once when you're born
And once when you look death in the face.”

Having watched all the Bond films more than once I felt it was about time that I actually read one of the books on which the films are supposedly based. Having lost his wife tragically Bond has gone to pot hitting the bottle, messing up missions and generally getting badly out of shape. So he is sent to Japan on what is meant as a diplomatic mission only to find that his old enemy Blofeld is also living in the country in a 'castle of death'. The plot was very thin to put it mildly and having benn brought up on Bond's gadgets was disappointed to see none of them in presence and not even a mention of Q. He did not even bed the girl until after the mission was completed and even then needed a little help to do so.

Most of the book seemed to deal with Bond being taken under the wing of the head of the Japanese Secret Service Tiger Tanaka and being introduced to Japanese culture and mindset. Although this was well written and showed an obvious understanding of the subject matter it had more to do with what was to happen after the mission rather than aid the mission itself.

On the whole I enjoyed Fleming's writing style and found the book an OK read it was not for me a really memorable one but then perhaps it is just showing its age. Then again maybe it was just missing some of the movie magic, a fast car and a great visual effects. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 3, 2013 |
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You only live twice:
Once when you are born,
and once when you look death in the face.
To Richard Hughes and Torao Saito, But for whom etc....
First words
The geisha called 'Trembling Leaf', on her knees beside James Bond, leant forward from the waist and kissed him chastely on the right cheek.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The James Bond Adventure Novel that takes 007 to the exotic Orient... to the suicide gardens of the maniacal Dr. Shatterhand... and the arms of the most enticing heroine Fleming ever created, the delightful KISSY SUZUKI.
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On the brink of becoming a security risk after the death of his wife, Secret Service agent 007 is sent to Japan and encounters an old enemy.

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