2017 Literacy Throwdown Book Review! – From Russia with Love

Though I’m a lifelong James Bond fan, this was my first experience with an Ian Fleming novel. I’d always been curious about what the source material looked like, so I picked this one because, well, it was on sale.

It’s my understanding that From Russia with Love is different from most other Bond novels in that the first third of the book doesn’t have Bond in it at all. It focuses entirely on those dastardly Russians and the plot they hatch to get 007 out of their hair once and for all. We get to spend some quality time with all the players on the KGB side of things, including their psychopathic chief assassin, who is played in the movie version with typical panache by Robert Shaw.

And the book really is a different beast from the movie. It’s not that the story is that much different or the scenes are changed (although there are a couple of action scenes tacked onto the end of the movie because apparently the book’s climax wasn’t climaxy enough).

It’s more like the focus of the two versions is different. The movie is focused more on the grandeur and adventure, whereas the book focuses more on, well, lengthy descriptions of women’s buttocks, along with other parts. Fleming spends a lot of time lingering on bodies, to the point where it kind of interferes with the flow of the action. Not to say that Bond movies don’t do that too, but in print it stands out more when it goes on and on.

It’s a good book for what it is, a forerunner to today’s Vince Flynns and Brad Thors. But I can’t say I’m in a big hurry to read any more of Fleming’s work. I’ll stick with the movies.

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