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Going For, Going For, Going For Gold!
Young Bond: Hurricane Gold - Charlie Higson
Member Name: samueltyler
Young Bond: Hurricane Gold - Charlie Higson
Advantages: Great characters, fast action packed story, develops Bond
Disadvantages: Too violent for impressionable kids
If there is one thing I hate about modern media it's the apparently constant drive to milk something for all its worth. Why stop at a movie when you can have toys, books and many other types of media? Why stop there even? You can spin off new variations of the show, re-imagine it, repackage it - just keep doing this every decade or so and tap into the new market of kids growing up. The problem with doing this is that you can dilute what made something great in the first place. Star Wars will never be as good as I cannot watch it without thinking of the various awful prequels. Harry Potter should have been 5 books instead of 7 as Rowling ran out of steam far too early. What about Bond? The films have been re-imagined and are looking good, but surely a set of book about Young Bond is a step too far? The first three in the series were reasonable, could 'Hurricane Gold' prove itself as a piece of standalone work that actually adds to the Bond mythos rather than detract from it?
Bond has been given time off from Eton after the adventures in 'Double or Die'. He has been sent with his Aunt to Mexico to get some much needed R&R. This being Bond means that action is never far away. When Bond is left with Captain Stone and his two spoilt children, Precious and JJ, he expects a month of boredom and frustration. However, this is far from the case as a group of attackers enter the house during a storm and try to kidnap the children. James, Precious and JJ must get away from the kidnappers and find help. These are stone cold killers and if Bond and co. do not get away they will be led to a deadly island where no one ever leaves.
'Hurricane Gold' is by no means comparable to the best of Bond. Fleming was a master of spy fiction in his times and the likes of 'Live and Let Die' are great. This book would also struggle if you tried to compare it to 'Casino Royale' or the soon to released 'Quantum of Solace'. This is because Bond is for adults, whilst Young Bond is not. If you read 'Hurricane' expecting the same type of thing from the films or original books you will come away disappointed at the naive nature and its simple structure. However, this book is not aimed at adults, but 8-12 year old boys and the 8-12 year old boy in me loved it!
From page one 'Hurricane' is action packed without ever losing its thread. The narrative structure is a linear one, but author Charlie Higson makes it a roller coaster ride. There are some action set pieces in this book that would not be out of place in a top thriller novel by the likes of Lee Child. What you basically get in 'Hurricane' is an excellent thriller censored somewhat for a younger audience. That is not to say that I did not have some misgivings over some of the violence in the book. There are several gruesome death scenes in the book and the baddies do kill without thought. I counted around 20 deaths in the book which may be a little unsuitable for some impressionable children (although most lads would love it!)
What makes the book stand out as great Juvenile Literature is Higson's writing. I have read all the Young Bond books and until this one they had yet to click with me. I felt that they were too fantastic in their approach and not grounded enough in reality. Once again the story is ridiculous in 'Hurricane', but at least everything seemed achievable in real life. What Higson also does well is introduce a maturity to Bond as each book has him learning a skill. Here he learns ju jitsu and also gets to have more experience with complicated women. By book 4 in the series it's clear that Higson has a plan to morph Young Bond into the Bond we know.
Another outstanding area that will appeal to a younger audience is the fantastic bad guys in this book. There is a core gang in the book and it is full of flawed and evil people. One character is hard of hearing, one is short, another is cold and beautiful and one even has a bit of skull missing! These bad guys are daft in context of adult Bond, but work great here. Jaws is not the most realistic character so having these extreme monstrosities is acceptable in this book. Higson also manages to write some thrilling sections of the book which is good writing no matter the age group aimed at.
'Young Bond: Hurricane Gold' is in my opinion a great book for young lads. If you know a boy aged 8-12 who is struggling to read then this could be the perfect introduction for them. The book is simple to read, but action packed and full of adventure. I am well past the age this book is aimed at and I still found it to be thrilling is some parts and amusing in others. In fact, I enjoyed it a lot more than most of the adult fiction I have been reading recently.
Author: Charlie Higson
Price: amazon uk - £4.89
play.com - £4.99
Summary: 8-12 year old lads will LOVE this
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