It is no easy task to continue the story of another, however when I discovered that William Boyd had written a ‘James Bond’ novel, I knew that the continuation of this franchise would be safe in the hands of one of my favourite and most compelling authors. Solo certainly didn’t disappoint.
Set in 1969, holding Bond at the full age of around 45 and a long career to look back on, Solo keeps to all the hallmarks of a classic Bond tale. As a dubious mission to end a war in Zanzarim takes a turn for the worse, Bond finds himself embarking on his own agenda to discover the truth to matters. Utilising old contacts, daring cunning and, of course, his license to kill, Bond proves once again that it’s a dire mistake to cross this affamed double 0.
It is of little surprise that the master author of the spy novel Restless would soon turn his hand to the classic series of British espionage loved the world over. Boyd’s exquisite knowledge of the finer cuisine and fashionable tastes certainly lend well to our worldy and charming protagonist, attributing Bond with an even greater suave than perhaps managed by even Fleming himself. Boyd’s own history with Africa similarly explains his attraction to this setting, through which he fully utilises his experiences to present an authentic take on the country and its culture.
With a plethora of loveable clichés, character traits and exotic settings, Solo is indeed a true likeness to Fleming’s classic series. Action, seduction and espionage. What more could you ask of our 007?
Length: 322 (Vintage)
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
In a world where cyclops, satyrs and nymphs are as real as the dinosaurs of the past, Relics is another creative take on the folklore and myths famous throughout humanity.
The novel follows the story of a young couple, whose comfortable lives are soon thrown ever deeper into an underground world unknown to most, where ‘relics’ remembered only in tale and lore are discovered to be only all too real. Curiosity soon turns into a fight for survival, as Angela and Vince are balanced between a fantastical world and the devastating greed of mankind.
The modern age hosts a plethora of classical mythical beings cast in a variety of ways, and Relics is certainly another example of this. Whilst the premise of the narrative is entertaining enough, the ingenuity and style required to make such a classically-fueled novel truly stand out was however somewhat lacking. With a number of clichés and some slightly forced background additions to the narrative, Relics was unfortunately missing the lustre needed to take it a level above.
Despite this, with plenty of action and a few twists and turns, Relics is still an enjoyable and creative read, told at a pace that will hold your interest from start to finish.
Length: 384 (Titan)
Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
The master of horror becomes the master of thriller. Mr Mercedes is a highly energetic novel, bearing all the hallmarks of a classic detective tale.
Set in an American city, Mr Mercedes follows the story of recently retired detective Bill Hodges. After an impressive career, Hodges is soon lured from his newly innate retired life of junk food and daytime TV by the resurgence of a past terror, the classic “perp that got away”. As mysteries are uncovered and tragedies begin to pile one upon the other, it soon becomes clear that no one can ever truly quit the chase.
Though the novel bears little creative ingenuity, a simple psychopath-pitted-against-justice novel, King’s engaging writing style certainly keeps the reader hooked. The prominence of modern technology also adds a new dimension to the classic crime mystery, with the old school detective persistently thrown off the scent by the ingenuity of technologically fueled madness.
Overall an entertaining and easy read, good for the summer, but readers looking for more intrigue had better revert back to the disturbing horrors the author was made famous for. Despite this, with its fair share of action, romance, comedy and tragedy, Mr Mercedes is a strong debut thriller from the world famous King.
Length: 432 (Hodder paperbacks)
Overall Rating: 3 stars
From the skilled hands of its world famous author, Carrie spins a dark tale of youthful cruelty and sorrowful revenge. Bearing a simple yet effective premise for a horror novel, known now by many from its multiple film interpretations, this is a short and entertaining classic.
Carrie centres around its namesake, a teenage girl who after a lifetime of bullying and trauma is brought to her limits in the run up to her senior prom. As the novel progresses, the supernatural gradually becomes all too frightening and real, and a terrifying retribution soon unfolds upon a small town in Maine America.
Whilst a little cliché at times, the same can largely be said of all teenagers. King soon moves beyond the realms of youthful stereotype however, drawing upon much darker themes. Carrie engages the brutally honest inner emotions of its characters, offering their raw, primitive thoughts throughout. The effect of this is an intrinsically human perspective on a savage, wounded time for a young damaged girl.
The general style of the novel is rather different to a typical horror novel. It is certainly interesting to consistently remind the reader of the novel’s end for example, a typical cardinal sin in most narratives. By frequenting numerous article segments and scientific considerations concerning the ‘Carrie phenomena’ throughout however, King adds a sense of impeding and inescapable doom. In this way, the slightest actions are therefore emphasised with a constant sense of inevitable consequence.
Carrie is the classic tale of youthful hardship and woes, escalated beyond proportion by a horrorful nature that seeks retribution for all the sorry young wronged.
Length: 242 (BCA)
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
A short yet delightful classic, written with all the civility expected of a victorian gentlemen, The Time Machine is science fiction at one of its earliest beginnings. Though the novel could certainly have been longer, there are still enough philosophical thoughts and strange imaginings to provide an enjoyable few hours of entertainment.
Continue reading “The Time Traveller, by H. G. Wells”
Human nature transcends time, ever offering violence upon the innocent, cruelty bred from war. Following a number of timelines and characters, Transatlantic explores the strifes of humanity, which echo on throughout history.
McCann’s subtle links and recurring themes underlying his plot certainly make for an interesting read. As the novel progresses, what at first appear seemingly unrelated stories become delicately intertwined, passing down through generations. TransAtlantic delves through history, shedding light on the unchanging nature of life for all our past ancestors, from violence to love, and hope to woe. Under the backdrop of an ever aggrieved Ireland and the fragile promise of America, McCann skillfully relates the hardships of humanity from a variety of characters, whose lives merge into one another’s in the slightest of ways.
Continue reading “TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann”
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008, The White Tiger tells the sorry truth about life for the vast population of India living in poverty. Through the relaxed and often humorous voice of its irreverent narrator, Balram Halwai, or ‘The White Tiger’ as he so aptly names himself, this novel traces the powerful and shocking revelations that shake one man’s very existence to the core.
From corrupt politicians and policeman, to the unrelenting nature of work for any who are even lucky enough to find it, The White Tiger looks beneath the shining buildings and growing economy seen by the rest of the world. As history has often shown, prosperity feeds off of poverty, a terrible aspect to life, but one which is certainly apparent in the brutal caste system of India.
Continue reading “The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga “