BOOK REVIEW: YOUNG BOND: SHOOT TO KILL / AUTHOR: STEVE COLE / PUBLISHER: DOUBLEDAY CHILDRENS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The truly dedicated reader of our fine mag may remember our short feature in issue #381 about the Young James Bond series, written at the time by Fast Show writer Charlie Higson. At the time that the feature was published, the series had died for about a year or two, although it’s has now been revived by Steve Cole, author of Astrosaurs and certain Doctor Who books. With a new author comes a new design for the book; the cover design is phenomenal and is like an embossed version of a Fleming novel.
Shoot to Kill sees the 16 year old spy-to-be go on a trip to Hollywood with some of his school mates, stumbling upon a snuff film conspiracy along the way. At their best, young adult adventure novels such as these educate the reader while serving up a slice of excitement that the reader just cannot get in their daily life. If the main character has skills that the reader could also acquire, then all the better. In this aspect, the novel succeeds without a doubt. The portrayal of Bond as a young boy is superb; he is appropriately sullen but willing to ask questions at the right moments. This is very much a character who is still learning his way around the world and still makes the mistake of trusting people occasionally.
Throughout the book, Bond is faced with numerous near-death situations, but he only escapes many of them with help from his friends or contacts. This, much more so than previous Bond books, is an ensemble piece. Most of his friends get their little moments in the sun and contribute much to help resolve the story.
While there's no getting away from the fact that these books aren't really aimed at adults (and if you read them thinking that they are, they will be found wanting), Cole captures the feel of previous Young Bond books very well and the audience that they are aimed at will appreciate them a great deal. Hopefully they will be inspired to look beyond these books to those which spawned one of Britain's most enduring heroes.
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