Suddenly it’s all coming back to me why I never wrote very much on this blog and it’s because I’m absolute shit at writing reviews. Nevertheless, I’m gonna give it the old college try and then maybe one day it won’t be such a pain in the arse to write these.
Lets start with the basic, I read Casino Royale on a whim. It’s like one of the those things where you read the book because the author is well-known and when someone asks, you want to be able to say you’ve read it. For example, a million and ten years ago I read Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut because I wanted to say I’d read Vonnegut. But, I didn’t want to seem like one of those pretentious people who reads Slaughterhouse Five on a coffee shop patio to let everyone know they’re the kind of person who reads Slaughterhouse Five, so I read a lesser known work. Is it more pretentious that I thought so much about it?? Probably, but I’ll live with the knowledge that it was a couple years ago and I’ve grown since then.
Anyways, lets refocus. Tangents are my weakness.
I would give Casino Royale a solid 3 out of 5 stars. I liked the book well-enough, but there were quite a few places where I started to get a little lost.
I will say that giving the novel a 3 out of 5 seems pretty generous when I didn’t actually enjoy the novel as much. I’m usually a voracious reader once I get started and I found myself having to remind me to read the book. There were some moments when I’d rather lay on my bed staring at the ceiling than pick this book up.
Now it may seem confusing that I would give the novel three stars if I didn’t want to read it that much, but overall the book wasn’t awful. I enjoyed Bonds general story and I particularly liked how Fleming chose to describe surroundings and people, just the level of detail was enjoyable for me. Fleming’s not as in-depth as JRR Tolkien but not so skimpy to leave you wondering what he’s talking about. It’s a nice medium:
“He slipped the case into his hip pocket and snapped his oxidized Ronson to see if it needed fuel. After pocketing the thin sheaf of ten-mille notes, he opened a drawer and took out a light chamois leather holster and slipped it over his left shoulder so that it hung about three inches below his arm-pit.”
I genuinely like most characters I just really didn’t like Bond. Which kinda is an issue when he’s the main character.
Probably one of my biggest issues with the novel is how gross and misogynistic Bond is. It’s hard to get over how literally awful the character is when it comes to women when it’s so obvious and you see it over and over again. I did my super best to ignore the largest and the smallest of obtuse opinions and actions.
For those who maybe aren’t familiar with Ian Fleming’s work, the first James Bond novel was written in 1953. So yah, it was a different time but even reading the novel with that mindset going in, I was still bothered. One of the worst examples of this is:
“And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape.” [emphasis added]
Now I’m not one-hundred percent sure if ‘rape’ was ever defined as something else half a century ago, but as far as I know it wasn’t. Either way, my immediate response was “Ummmm wtf.”
I know not everyone feels the same way, so take it as you will, but it makes me super uncomfortable and it was incredibly off-putting.
Another issue with Bond is how absolutely hypocritical and ridiculous bond is. When he found out a woman is going to be working with him he has a hissy fit because women slow him down (because he gets boners over them). Literally, in the book his thought process is I’ll work with her now and once the jobs done we can sleep together. (Cue eyeroll)
Moreover, Bond whines about working with Vesper a million times and he complains about how ridiculous she is for getting into trouble and then he gets in the exact same situation. Just kill me now.
Overall, TL;DR, Fleming is wonderful at world building and character building, but he built Bond as a whiny, douche who rips off two stars of this novel.