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

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  9,328 Ratings  ·  416 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 January 1st 1964)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) No, I can't, but you can get the book and read it for yourself in a very short time. The vocabulary isn't demanding.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mohsin Maqbool
May 28, 2013 Mohsin Maqbool rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I WAS reading a lot of espionage and western novels in the early 70s. In fact, I had started reading espionage in 1969 with “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” novels and Ian Fleming’s “Goldfinger” which was followed by “Thunderball” and finally “You Only Live Twice”, both of which I read in 1970.

image: description
Ian Lancaster Fleming writing his novels in the bedroom of his house in Jamaica.

Of the three James Bond novels, I think I had liked “You Only Live Twice” the best. Maybe because the location was Japan and
Jan 22, 2014 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
Mar 22, 2017 BrokenTune rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

"The Superintendent went to the bottom of his file and extracted what looked like a blown-up copy of Doctor Guntram Shatterhand’s passport photograph and handed it over. Bond took it nonchalantly. Then his whole body stiffened. He said to himself, God Almighty! God Almighty! Yes. There was no doubt, no doubt at all!"

You Only Live Twice or, as I really want to call it, On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Part Deux, because I can't help seeing parallels to the second Hot Shots! movie, deals with
Apr 03, 2011 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
Bill Lynas
Oct 28, 2016 Bill Lynas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Bond's twelfth adventure takes him to Japan, but this is not really a novel involving the usual gunplay & gambling. Fleming creates an excellent picture of a culture far removed from our own & we are introduced to some of his greatest characters. Tiger Tanaka, head of the Japanese Secret Service & Dikko Henderson are two of my favourites. Despite the story revolving considerably around death there is a surprising amount of humour for a Fleming novel. Having read the story quite ...more
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 13, 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.
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
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
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
Aug 12, 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
Jun 19, 2009 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
Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 21, 2009 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
Dec 21, 2014 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
C.G. 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
Alex Gherzo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Reeser
Mar 07, 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
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
Jan 07, 2009 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
Zohar -
May 25, 2010 Zohar - rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"You Only Live Twice" is the concluding novel of the "Blofeld Trilogy" ("Thunderball", "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" with "The Spy Who Loved Me" in the middle but not part of the trilogy).

The story finds James Bond in a sad place after the murder of his wife and a fading career. M, head of MI6, wants to dismiss Bond but changes his mind, gives him a new number ("7777") and assigns him the difficult mission of convincing Japan's secret service to provide information about the Soviet Union.

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.
Sep 13, 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
Aug 29, 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
May 13, 2013 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
Dec 14, 2010 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
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.
Jan 23, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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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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.” 10 likes
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