Sunday, October 4, 2015

Silverfin by Charlie Higson

fpo I don't write fan fiction but if I did it would probably be origin stories of favorite characters. When a literary character performs amazing or seemingly impossible feats on the page it can be fun to imagine that character's backstory, how that person came to be what they are. That is essentially what Charlie Higson has done with his Young Bond series - provided an origin story for the famous super spy. Of course, Higson didn't invent Bond's backstory out of whole cloth. The basics were already there in the books (presumably - I've only read one of Ian Fleming's original novels so I couldn't say for sure) and the movies.

Silverfin reveals James as a young boy. Readers learn how his parents died and what young James's life was life before and after their deaths. As the book begins James is beginning his first year of boarding school at Eton. One of the things I loved about this book from the start is that the super spy wasn't a super kid. James is not the perfect student or the most popular. What he is, is smart, brave, adventurous, determined, and in possession of a moral compass.

This is James Bond so it can't just be an origin story. There must also be adventure and mystery. Higson does not disappoint. When James visits his aunt and uncle for the spring holidays, he learns that Alfie Kelly, a young boy from the village, has gone missing. He was last seen in the vicinity of the heavily guarded castle on the hill, Lord Hellebore's castle. Many in the village revere Lord Hellebore as he has showered the village with money. Others are skeptical of the extremely secretive Hellebore, wondering what is going on in that castle that requires such heavy security. Having met his bully of a son, James falls into the latter camp. And so begins Bond's first adventure.

I have to admit I didn't have high hopes for this book. I have read only one of the original Bond novels and didn't love it, which is why years later it is still only one. I picked this up in order to fulfill the "middle grade/YA adventure" category of one of my reading challenges and because a podcaster I enjoy listening to mentioned this as one of his favorite series growing up. I'm so glad I gave this a shot. It was so much fun, and dare I say, better than the actual Bond novel I read.

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