Contains mild spoilers.
SilverFin by Charlie Higson puts the pleasure in pleasure reading. It is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. I stayed up very late on many school nights reading it because I couldn’t put it down. It is a very addictive book. I’ve read six James Bond novels by Ian Fleming in my time and I enjoyed reading SilverFin more than some of them. Mr. Higson is a fantastic author because he writes with great detail, his writing style makes the story very easy to comprehend, and it is evident that he did much research. SilverFin started off the Young Bond™ series very nicely with a perfect introduction to James Bond’s formative years.
I liked how Higson made James weak in the beginning and made him grow tougher as the story progressed. James was vulnerable and scared of bullies in the beginning but that all changed at the end of the story. I am eager to see more evolution in young James as the series continues. I am a little disappointed that James wiped off the kiss he received from Wilder Lawless because at thirteen years old a boy should not believe in “cooties” anymore. When I was thirteen years old I was kissing girls but maybe it was different in the 1930s but I doubt that. I would have expected James Bond to enjoy that kiss even at thirteen. Isn’t this the same James Bond that lost his virginity at sixteen, only three years later, to a prostitute in Paris? I was also a little disappointed by James’ group of friends at Eton. To me they came off as the school “rejects” but I guess that Higson wanted to show us that James is an outsider, which makes sense. James’ friend, Red Kelly, is a good character. He is important to the plot and also a source of comic relief, which got annoying at some parts.
I enjoyed learning about James Bond’s family. The part about his parents is very touching. Higson keeps the reader hooked by hinting about his parents throughout the beginning. Later on the story of their death is revealed in an appropriate way. Aunt Charmian and Uncle Max are great characters and they obviously had influences on James that carried on into adulthood, which is evident in the Fleming novels. For example, James learned about spying and fast cars from his Uncle Max. I like how May was Uncle Max’s housekeeper. If you’ve read the Fleming novels you would know that she becomes James’ housekeeper. I am disappointed that Uncle Max passed away because he was such a lovable character but it was obvious that he would die at some point since his health was pretty bad.
The villain in SilverFin is a very good villain. He is a very sick and cruel man, which is surprising since this book is aimed at pre-teens. His plan of creating a genetically altered race of men and beasts is very interesting especially because this story takes place in the era of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. His son, George Hellebore, was a good enemy until his predictable change of heart. He turned on his father therefore becoming a good ally for Bond later on when together they destroyed Lord Hellebore’s castle in Scotland where he conducted his evil experiments.
SilverFin is as perfect as can be but I am concerned about how it will be accepted by the parents of its target audience. The book has a lot of violence, death, and a little gore and I certainly understand why it was toned down in the United States. That stuff doesn’t really bother me but it may bother some strict parents. The only violent part I didn’t really like was the abuse and murder of some piglets by Cleek MacSawney, Lord Hellebore’s right hand man.
I recommend SilverFin to readers of all ages and it is a must read for fans of James Bond. This book makes reading fun and I should know because reading has never been my favorite thing to do. If you decide to read SilverFin, don’t read it too fast because Book 2 is coming out in January 2006. Waiting for it will be as painful as being mauled by Lord Hellebore’s killer, genetically altered eels from Loch Silverfin. Well, maybe not that painful but still pretty painful!
Places: Eton College; Keithly; Pett Bottom
Girl(s): Wilder Lawless
Villain(s): Lord Randolph Hellebore
Villain’s Employer: Self-employed
Villain’s Project: Creating a genetically altered race of men and beasts.
Minor Villain(s): George Hellebore; Cleek MacSawney; Dr. Perseus Friend
Bond’s Friends: Pritpal Nandra; Tommy Chong; Leo Butcher; Red Kelly; Mike “Meatpacker” Moran
Highlights: Cross-country race; train fight; Silverfin serum injection; death of Lord Hellebore
Remarks: A very good introduction to James Bond’s formative years.
Chris Wright read the US Uncorrected Proof of SilverFin.
Return to CBn Reviews Young Bond #1: SilverFin