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

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  8,529 Ratings  ·  385 Reviews
Gone to pieces after the murder of his new bride, top agent James Bond has become a security risk. M gives him one last chance: a near-impossible mission in Japan, where he will encounter an old enemy revitalized
Audio CD, library, 600 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 1964)
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Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bond fans
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
Richard Derus
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
Sep 08, 2015 F.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“(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
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
Jun 20, 2013 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 15, 2013 Doug rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 13, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy, britain
I seem to remember reading all or part of Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice many years ago when it was abridged and serialized in Playboy magazine. I do not remember many of the long scenes with Tiger Tanaka, which either were not in the issue(s) I had, or which were mercifully left on the cutting room floor.

In this, the third of Fleming's SPECTRE novels, James Bond catches up with Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his infamous consort Irma Blunt at a Japanese castle and blows them to kingdom come. (As B
Jan 25, 2015 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Howard Olsen
Jun 28, 2010 Howard Olsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 25, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rick Brindle
Jan 07, 2015 Rick Brindle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Sep 11, 2015 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy-fiction
Set in Japan and written with knowledgeable details regarding essential do’s and don’ts as advised by Tiger Tanaka, Head of the Japanese Secret Service, to Bondo-san, that is, James Bond before pursuing his heroic mission, the fiction’s title “You Only Live Twice” has since been mysterious to me from its 1967 movie title. I mean its translated meaning is something philosophical, its context required for more understanding. In fact, it’s taken from the first line of a 17-syllable haiku by Basho, ...more
Jason Reeser
Mar 10, 2014 Jason Reeser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 16, 2012 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alex Gherzo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sep 15, 2014 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Dec 04, 2015 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2014 Carson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rob Thompson
You only live twice:

Once when you are born
And once when you look death in the face
(You Only Live Twice, Chapter 11)

You Only Live Twice was Fleming’s 11th James Bond novel. This isn't counting the short story collection "For Your Eyes Only." It’s a strange book. Through the mouths of his characters, Fleming examines the decline of post-World War II British power and influence, notably in relation to the United States. The Bond in this story reflects this. He is a shattered character who has lost
Benjamin Thomas
Feb 18, 2016 Benjamin Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller-spy
Coming on the heels of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, this 12th book in the original James Bond series had quite a task for itself. Bond’s world had been rocked by a tragic event at the very end of that novel and indeed, at the beginning of this book we see that Bond has been broken. He has screwed up his last two assignments and M is on the verge of having to fire him from his 00 status. As a last resort, M assigns him to an “impossible” mission in Japan and actually elevates him to a diploma ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books-read
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.
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.

Jul 28, 2016 Quiet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The villain in this Bond novel is named Dr. Shatterhand.
Obviously, this is the best book ever written.

But really, this is the last Bond book published before author Ian Fleming's passing, and it's a fitting dive back into the very original of James Bond's character as seen in 'Casino Royale.' In this novel, Bond is once more deeply human, as the book begins some several months after the tragedy of the prior novel, with Bond now drinking deeply, repeatedly botching missions, and even
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.
May 10, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find have more to say about a comparison of You Only Live Twice with Agatha Christie's They Do It with Mirrors than a consideration of these works separately. Maybe also because I read one after the other at a time when I really needed them. In both, the stories lead inexorably to the total, delicious defeat of a dirty dog of a villain by a sublimely efficacious hero. Miss Marple quietly breaking through the confusion of a baffling puzzle to let everyone know what's what, and James Bond, depre ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming 3 20 Jun 17, 2015 04:35AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Alternate book cover 2 10 Aug 10, 2014 06:24AM  
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  • James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007

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
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)

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“You only live twice:
Once when you are born
And once when you look death in the face”
“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.” 9 likes
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