Robert McCrum takes a look at Charlie Higson's Young Bond series for the Guardian. McCrum explains why now:
- "Three years ago, to reach a new audience among the Harry Potter generation, and possibly inspired by the success of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider stories, the estate commissioned Charlie Higson, the co-creator of The Fast Show, to write a sequence of five novels about the young James Bond, at Eton in the Thirties. The first volume, Silverfin, published in 2005, in which a 13-year-old Bond overcomes killer eels in the Scottish fastness of an American megalomaniac, was a surprise hit, with bestseller sales surpassing the first Harry Potter and much movie talk. The second, Blood Fever, backed up by a cool Young Bond website (youngbond.com), is just out from Puffin. So it's a good time to take stock."
I didn't know the estate commissioned these works. And, I've never been a Bond fan. But it seems I'm going to have to give the first Young Bond, Silverfin (the second volume, Blood Fever, hasn't been released in the States yet), a close read.
McCrum, for one, is pleasantly surprised. "Higson," he writes, "takes the reader by the throat and propels him - we're talking boys only - through a succession of narrative hairpin bends." I don't know whether McCrum means only boys read these books or that the characters are only boys, but either way the "boys" don't deter me here. Two recent good reviews have convinced me to give Silverfin a try.