You Only Live Twice (1964) by Ian Fleming – Book Review

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You Only Live Twice (1964) is Ian Fleming’s eleventh as well as penultimate James Bond novel.

Although, I’ve only read one Fleming novel prior to this (The Spy Who Loved Me), You Only Live Twice has a much darker theme. Its usage of political satire is to be noted but it sometimes comes across as dull storytelling.

The novel really kick-starts the thrill factor in the closing fifty pages. The beginning is equally fun to read but the midsection is a tedious ordeal to go through. It’s an espionage story but lacks the consistent pacing that is a defining feature of its genre.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) was unique as it wasn’t written through our titular hero’s perspective. Still, it was able to showcase James Bond in a new fashion. You Only Live Twice makes the reader feel like there’s no charm left in our protagonist. And this isn’t surprising as Fleming penned this work in 1963 when he was suffering from serious health problems, that unfortunately led to his demise the next year, a few months after this novel’s publication.

You Only Live Twice is not, by any means, a bad novel. There is just no wow factor that would motivate you to recommend this book to another potential reader.

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