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You Only Live Twice (James Bond (Original Series) #12)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  6,772 ratings  ·  290 reviews
Bond, a shattered man after the death of his wife at the hands of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has gone to pieces as an agent, endangering himself and his fellow operatives. M, unwilling to accept the loss of one of his best men, sends 007 to Japan for one last, near-impossible mission. But Japan proves to be Bond's downfall, leading him to a mysterious residence known as the 'Ca ...more
Audio, library, 0 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published March 26th 1964)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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
...more
Carmen
Jan 24, 2015 Carmen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bond fans
Shelves: fiction, mystery
You only live twice:
Once when you are born,
And once when you look death in the face.


This is the haiku James Bond composes in this book, but in reality it is by Bassho, a Japanese poet.

This is a very weird book. Actually, it's my personal opinion that (view spoiler) marks the point this series jumped the shark. When that event happens at the very end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, it marks the end of good Bond books, at least to my recollect
...more
F.R.
“(Britain has) not only lost a great Empire, you have seemed almost anxious to throw it away with both hands... You apparently sought to arrest this slide into impotence at Suez, (but) succeeded only in stage-managing one of the most pitiful bungles in the history of the world, if not the worst. Further, your governments have shown themselves successively incapable of ruling and have handed over effective control of the country to the trade unions, who appear to be dedicated to the principle of ...more
Sandy
Written during the winter of 1963, at Ian Fleming's Goldeneye retreat in Oracabessa, on the north shore of Jamaica, "You Only Live Twice" was the author's 11th James Bond novel, not counting the short story collection "For Your Eyes Only." Ultimately released in March '64, just five months before the author's untimely demise, it was the last Bond novel to be completed. (The posthumous 007 novel "The Man With the Golden Gun" is an essentially unfinished first draft, lacking the rich detail that F ...more
El
In 1964, Ian Fleming wrote Bond #12, You Only Live Twice. Three years later, someone must have decided they hated the book and made a movie about something completely different. Essentially. The two certainly do not have a lot in common.

For good measure, the original trailer.

One word about the movie that makes it more awesome than the book: The screenplay was written by my beloved Roald Dahl. The truly Dahl-esque moment (which is shown in the above trailer) is when a helicopter carries a car ful
...more
Doug
I thought there was definitely an element of "I am so sick of writing these books" in this one. For example, "You want me to begin with Bond winning some sort of gambling game like in most of the other books? Fine! I'll narrate a high-stakes round of ROCK PAPER SCISSORS! Fuck you!" and "You want a death trap? Okay, how about having Bond's testicles dangle over a LIVE ACTIVE VOLCANIC GEYSER! Go to hell!" and "You want the scene where Bond instantly masters some skill that other people take years ...more
James
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Nicol
This was the first 'Bond' book that I've read and in hindsight it probably wasn't the best choice to start with.

Having grown up on the Bond films I was aware that the books were quite different to gadget-centric films of the same name. However, I was quite disappointed that there was basically no action until the final fifth of the book and not once did he punch anyone in the face (I R DISAPPOINT).

It's obvious from the book that Ian Fleming had quite a good understanding of Japanese culture and
...more
Howard Olsen
This is last fully realized Bond novel from Fleming (he died while revising "The Man With The Golden Gun"). It is also an exercise in Far East exotica as Bond travels to Japan for a mission. Like "Dr. No," the story builds slowly with the Bad Guy (Blofeld, again) appearing towards the very end. Most of the book is taken up with; first, an extended sequence where Bond and the head of the Japanese Secret Service - the inevitably inscrutable Tiger Tanaka - travel around Japan arguing over the merit ...more
Wendy
My friend recently praised the audiobook narrations of Simon Vance. Unfortunately, my library's inventory is small and Overdrive Media only allows me to download MP3s to my Nexus, further limiting my options to only two James Bond novels narrated by Vance. Since I have been wanting to read Bond books, I figured why not.

Shortly into the reading, my friend asked me what I thought of Vance's performance. I informed her that there was no Simon Vance. There was only James Bond and Tiger Tanaka. Vance
...more
Jeff
This Bond novel is arguably the best in the Fleming series. Not only is it an excellent spy and revenge story, it's also a chilling account of the human condition in post-war Japan. The fact that Blofeld sets up base in a country that (at the time) had the highest suicide rate in the world is no simple super-villain plot device.

The Japanese have a strong sense of honor and shame and they lost the war at a terrible cost. As a result the suicide elements in the book are very emotional; all of thi
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rick Brindle
Why do people review films on a book site? What the....
Anyway, this is far from being the best Bond book. In this story 007 is sent on an impossible mission to try and shake him out of his grief at losing his wife. He goes to Japan, and in exchange for the Japanese offering the British intelligence material, Bond has to kill a foreigner who has built a garden full of deadly plants and other hazards that attract lots of people to commit suicide.
A reasonable plot line, then, so what's wrong with i
...more
Luke
In this story, a bereaved Bond is coming close to the end. By screwing up missions (probably not aided by the references to drinking a pint of bourbon at a time) and mooning over his dead wife, the agent has become something of a liability to his section.

So, M sends him off on a mission that's considered to be suicidal. Good choice!

This novel is classic Bond. There's exotic locales (and ladies), plenty of booze and quick-and-easy, ruthless death at every turn. The prose is serviceable, though ob
...more
Alex Gherzo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
CG Fewston
You Only Live Twice (1964) by Ian Fleming was published some eleven years after his first James Bond book, Casino Royale, and five months before Fleming would die on August 12, 1964. Compared to the scope and achievement of Casino Royale, You Only Live Twice is a poor narrative with some brief bright points. It is no surprise since You Only Live Twice comes at the tail end of Fleming's career arch and after the international success of the early books and films (the first film being Dr No in 196 ...more
Jay
Not as much action as I expected for a Bond story. In this James is touring Japan and being diplomatic. It felt like Fleming was stretching with extended descriptions, a la guidebook, of plants, as well as in a few other places where it feels like a tourist guidebook. And Bond's behavior is quite odd, he's in a funk that he really doesn't get over until the end, then only for a short while. As you come to expect, there are long monologues by the villain, and there are some highly unlikely plot d ...more
Justin
Without a doubt, my favorite Bond book of all. Not only because I am a far-gone Japanophile, but because so much of this book blooms a sweet sensitivity that the others I've read do not possess. Bond has his final showdown with Blofeld and a knock to the head renders Bond with near total amnesia. The "Bond-girl" here, Kissy Suzuki, mends him and keeps him. Bond lives two lives.
It's probably a secret dream of most men to be able to innocently disappear from their own life and live a guiltless se
...more
Carson
There are no other 007 films quite like this one. Not only is James Bond facing off with real ramifications from the events of the previous chapter "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," he is in danger of losing his job and will to live. In a final chance, he winds up in position to gain the revenge he rightfully relishes and the ending is quite satisfying for his character but open-ended for all of us. Definitely a page-turner and must-read as James Bond has a rematch with his arch-nemesis, his Mo ...more
Tom
With the popularity of the Bond 007 series on screen, I forget that Ian Fleming's books were hugely successful in the days before they made it to Hollywood. I stumbled across a copy of You Only Live Twice, in which Bond is dissolute after the death of his wife in Casino Royale, and M puts him off on a mission to eliminate the evil Blofeld. The book is richer in narrative than the movie, and therefore not duplicative. Now, I've ordered a couple others in the series.
Travis
Great exotic setting, great feel of time and place, a ompletely bizarre undercover assignment, some clever bits, and a wild resolution.
The Bond books aren't great, but they are such an interesting time capsule of a 60's that probably was no more real than Agatha Christe's England, but you still get swept up in it, because Fleming puts so much detail in this you buy into this world he's created.

Plus, Bond is still one of the coolest guys in literature.

Jenna
This book was the sequel of "On Her Majesty Secret Service".
James Bond was sent by M (007's boss)to the Orient (Japan)for new assignment to meet "Tiger Tanaka".

He apparently encounter Stavro Blofeld in Kuro island........Bond's nemesis masquerading as Dr. Shatterhand whom the cause of James fiancee's death.

James Bond appropriated a revenge for this most wanted evil, genius mad who invented a new method of collecting death.
Daniel
Fleming closes Bond's story in this tale, and the ending is fantastic. Unlike the films, Fleming incorporates the consequences of previous books, such that Bond is under severe stress by this last volume. This affects his actions and increases the stakes. I was surprised just how good this book--and the series as a whole--is. If you love the films, then I recommend trying the books that inspired them.
Lee
I can’t tell whether Fleming’s tongue is in his cheek or he’s telling a straight story. The book seesaws continually between a serious introspective of how Bond is affected by his mission, and completely unbelievable action. The opening scene is a microcosm of this split: Bond is playing a high-stakes game against another man, a man he needs information from. There is a serious treatment of the psychology of the game and how it relates to the larger conflict between the two men. The game? Rock, ...more
Ed
This was the Bond book I was most looking forward to and I have to admit it was disappointing. Coming after OHMSS, I was never going to be more interested in Bond's emotional state of mind and I'm afraid Fleming squanders this much like the movies. The beginning of the book does deal with Bond post-Tracy and gets off to a strong start. Once he gets to Japan, Fleming shows off how much research he did but comes off like an asshole college professor more than a storyteller. Although, given most of ...more
David Clarkson
As an introduction to the series, this twelfth Bond novel was a peculiar place for me to start. The eponymous hero does not even use a gun at any point in the novel so it is very different to the movie franchise. In fact, during the first 100 pages, the closest we get to any action is a very tense game of Rock, Paper, Scissors! It was, however, a fun and captivating book to read.

The story begins with Bond in mourning for the loss of his bride, Tracy, on their wedding day. She was murdered by the
...more
Kieran Smith
I was surprised by how closely Fleming's thematic concerns paralleled those of Japanese writers.
The villian's plot was very similar(almost identical in fact) to that of the antagonistic group in Shion Sono's Suicide Club.
The self doubting and insecure Bond had a lot in common with the majority of Anime protagonists(especially Gundam and Evangelion's).
The sequence on the Ama island and its aesthetic contrast with the rest of the novel illustrates clearly the transformation of traditional Japan
...more
Jason Reeser
I've read some reviews of this by readers who really thought this was the worse Bond book ever. I've not read them all, but I wouldn't agree with them. However, I think I know why they are disappointed with this book. Fleming does not stick to his formula here. This is a very different book. Much the way Japan is a culture unlike our Western culture, You Only Live Twice is unlike the other Bond books. More exotic, less formulaic, with so many quirky passages. Either Fleming was working hard to a ...more
Althea Ann
I'd only read one of Ian Fleming's 'Bond' books before, and I really didn't like it. (It was 'Goldfinger', I believe). But, since I like all the movies so much, and I came across this book for free somewhere or other, I thought I'd give another try.
Well, although this one didn't actively offend me, it's still not the best-written example of literature. However, it was quite interesting to me for a couple of reasons.
First, it was UTTERLY different from the movie of the same name. I wouldn't have
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Alternate book cover 2 10 Aug 10, 2014 06:24AM  
  • Icebreaker (John Gardner's Bond, #3)
  • The Facts of Death (James Bond, #2)
  • Colonel Sun (James Bond, #15)
  • James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Second World War Navy Commander. Fleming is best remembered for creating the character of James Bond and chronicling his adventures in twelve novels and nine short stories. Additionally, Fleming wrote the children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and two
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More about Ian Fleming...

Other Books in the Series

James Bond (Original Series) (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Casino Royale (James Bond, #1)
  • Live and Let Die (James Bond #2)
  • Moonraker (James Bond, #3)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond, #4)
  • From Russia With Love (James Bond, #5)
  • Doctor No (James Bond, #6)
  • Goldfinger (James Bond, #7)
  • For Your Eyes Only (James Bond, #8)
  • Thunderball (James Bond, #9)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (James Bond, #10)
Casino Royale (James Bond, #1) From Russia With Love (James Bond, #5) Goldfinger (James Bond, #7) Live and Let Die (James Bond #2) Moonraker (James Bond, #3)

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“You only live twice:
Once when you're born
And once when you look death in the face.”
2076 likes
“I've found that one must try and teach people that there's no top limit to disaster-that, so long as breath remains in your body, you've got accept the miseries of life. They will often seem infinite, insupportable. They are part of the human condition.” 5 likes
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