You Only Live Twice is next to last of the 12 James Bond novels Ian Fleming began publishing in 1953. Assuming readers are familiar with the names and personalities of the series’ characters, Fleming plunges into what passes for a plot.
Bond’s wife died in the previous novel; 007 has messed up two assignments since.
His supervisor, M, gives Bond the opportunity to redeem himself by persuading the Japanese to share radio transmissions captured from the Soviet Union. Japan’s price is the assassination of foreign “scientific researchers” living in a Japanese castle on a volcanic island.
Japanese wishing to commit suicide are drawn to the site’s geysers and fumaroles, as well as the researchers’ collection of toxic plants and carnivorous animals. The suicides are bad PR for Japan.
Bond infiltrates the castle, learns the researchers are the couple who killed his wife and blows the place up.
The explosion leaves him with amnesia.
A word in a news story triggers a faint memory, and Bond is off to a new adventure.
You Only Live Twice reads like a collaborative project by 13-year-old boys, with elements of every story they’ve ever seen or read from Random Harvest to — I’m not making this up — Winnie the Pooh.
Unless you have a life to waste, read some other novel.You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming New American Library, 1964 240 pages 1964 bestseller #8 my grade D+
© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni