Andrew's Reviews > Carte Blanche

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver
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's review
Aug 29, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: adventure, suspense
Read from August 29 to September 01, 2011

First and foremost, this is a fun spy novel. The action is fast-paced, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. The villain was colorful and evil, and his wicked scheme was creative and unpredictable.

Deaver's writing had a few distracting quirks that occasionally drew me out of the story. Too often, he would cut away from Bond making a phone call to persons unknown. The next chapter, we'd find Bond in some tight spot or another, only to see him get out because he'd already prepared for it by making the phone call in the previous chapter. The first one or two times this happened, it seemed clever. By the fourth or fifth time, it got a bit old.

So, overall, a fun novel and a diverting read. But is it a good James Bond novel?

The answer to that question depends upon what you're looking for in a James Bond novel. This book definitely doesn't read like an Ian Fleming book. Which is fine; Ian Fleming has been dead for decades. In the intervening years, Bond has gone from the star of Fleming's novel to... something else. With novels by other authors, and movies by various production teams and starring various actors, it's now impossible to say what the definitive James Bond truly is.

Whether the world needs new James Bond novels or not is debatable. However, if new James Bond stories are to be published, the character needs to be kept up to date. There's no point in writing historical James Bond adventures; the originals were contemporary when they were written, and it wouldn't be in keeping with that spirit if that were to be changed. Similarly, it doesn't make sense to just write pastiches of the Fleming books; readers might as well just read the originals.

In order to keep the character up to date, either the character's age needs to be ignored (one option) or the series needs to be restarted (another option, one taken here). And Deaver does a fine job of updating the character, keeping much of Bond's character intact while making him palatable to modern audiences. The greatest change is in Bond's treatment of women. It would simply not be possible to have a character who is ostensibly in his 30s today treating women as if he grew up in the 50s. Deaver has applied some thought to Bond's relationships; he respects women, but knows that his career makes long-term relationships problematic.

Otherwise, this Bond felt like a new version of a character I've been reading most of my life. And it's a version I wouldn't mind meeting up with again.

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08/30/2011 page 136
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