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[Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice]
section break "When Ernst Stravro Blofeld blasts into eternity the girl whom Bond had married only hours before, the heart, the zest for life, goes out of Bond. Incredibly, 007, the top agent in the Secret Service, has gone to pieces and is on the verge of being a security risk. "
-From the 2002 Penguin Edition

Crushed by the death of his beloved wife at the hands of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond has begun to deteriorate in both health as well as duty. After botching his first two assignments after Tracy's murder, M is about to retire Bond. However, on the advice of 007's doctor, he is sent on an impossible mission to Japan instead. Bond must obtain a MAGIC 44 decoder device that is in the property of Tiger Tanaka, the head of the Japanese Secret Service. Ultimately, Bond comes face to face with Blofeld once again, after Tiger persuades him to assassinate a mystery man responsible for countless Japanese suicides.

You Only Live Twice starts off slower than any of the other Fleming books. It wasn't until the third time I tried reading the book that I actually got past the first fifty pages. The first two times I just got bored and put it down. The problem with the book is that the first half of it is just about Bond's friendship with Tiger. While Fleming makes their relationship more believable than any other he ever wrote about, it was too long. It wasn't until the final part of the story that Bond made his attack on Blofeld's "Castle of Death."

An extremely enjoyable interlude came when Bond spent a few days on a Japanese island filled with Amas, or diver girls. It is there that he meets Kissy Suzuki, his wife in the movie version. There are many scenes of kindness between them, and my personal favorite, a scene where Bond joins her in diving for shells. It is a nice change for Bond from killing and drinking, to doing something as unglamorous as that. Still, it is not until Bond begins the final assault on Blofeld and Irma Bunt the book really picks up. It is classic Fleming action and suspense with 007 having to rely on ninjutsu instead of his usual gun of choice.

SPOILER ALERT: The ending of the book is especially gratifying when we see Bond finally killing Blofeld with his bare hands. Then, making a miraculous escape from the "Castle Of Death", Bond gets hit in the head and is presumed dead by M. There is an intriguing obituary written about him by M, which divulges much of the mysterious past of Bond, including his parents names, schooling history, and his military history: at least the history that wasn't classified. However, the final chapter did not sit well with me, as Bond was actually recovered by Kissy and suffering from complete amnesia. It was just very 'unbond'. END SPOILERS

Basically the only part of the book that made it to the film version was the existence of Blofeld, Tanaka, and Dikko Henderson. Other than that there are absolutely no similarities. This is probably for the best because although You Only Live Twice is a decent book, it would have made a terribly boring movie. It wasn't one of Fleming's best, but regardless, I'm dying to know how Bond gets his life back.

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You Only Live Twice

Published:
March 16, 1964
Author: Ian Fleming

Villain: Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Employer: Self-employed
Bond Girl: Kissy Suzuki
Allies: Tiger Tanaka;
           Dikko Henderson

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 Casino Royale
 Live and Let Die
 Moonraker
 Diamonds Are Forever
 From Russia With Love
 Dr. No
 Goldfinger
 For Your Eyes Only
 Thunderball
 The Spy Who Loved Me
 On Her Majesty's Secret
    Service

 You Only Live Twice
 The Man With The Golden
    Gun

 Octopussy

 Ian Fleming Biography














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