Guest Book Review: Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver
I’m reviewing the James Bond novel, Carte Blanche, written by bestselling author Jeffery Deaver. It follows James Bond around the world as he tries to prevent Incidient Twenty, an act that will kill thousands of people, and the clock is ticking, because Bond has less than a week to stop it. But of course, being written by Deaver, nothing is as it seems.
This is the second time I’ve read this book. After watching Skyfall a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been in a “Bond mood,” watching a couple of movies and listening to the theme songs. When this novel was first released in 2011, I was excited. I love Bond and I love Jeffery Deaver, it seemed a perfect fit. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed. Now, after reading it again, I think I now why.
There seems to be two kinds of Bond: literary Bond and film Bond. I love film Bond. I have only read two other Bond novels: Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, and High Time to Kill by Raymond Benson. I was disappointed with the latter as well. The film Bond is slightly different from his literary counterpart: he’s quippier, there are more gadgets, more spectacular action sequences, more of a womanizer. Literary Bond seems more cold-blooded and the world seems more rooted in reality. If you grew up with one, you might be disappointed by the other.
And I think that is why I was disappointed with Carte Blanche. While Deaver stressed he was trying to keep it in line with Fleming’s original character, I’m a fan of the films. The gadgets and death-defying stunts are absent. While there are plenty of Bond girls and exotic locations, nothing really matches with the films, besides the trademark introduction. After the film reboot with Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale, this book follows more closely with the “more realistic, less gadgets” style of that film. Also, given the book’s title, Bond doesn’t really do anything spectacular or over-the-top, to fully utilize the phrase “carte blanche.”
But the book is good. I like that it is modernized, placing Bond in today’s world and making him a veteran of the Afghanistan war. It is the first time in the series’s literary history he has been rebooted. All the supporting players have been rebooted, with several new ones introduced as well. The villains are interesting, with much more realistic goals, and are well-written. Deaver’s well-known tricks of misinformation, hidden clues, and plot twists, are evident. You could almost see Bond going to Lincoln Rhyme for consultation.
Like I said, I’m a fan of the films and I guess I was expecting more of a film-style book. But this is still a good read, both for fans of Bond and Deaver. I hope this rebooted continuity carries on in later books.