This weekend I read Silverfin - Book #1 : A James Bond Adventure, by Charlie Higson. This book is the start of a new series about James Bond as a teenager. The story begins at Eton in the 1930's, where Bond is starting as a new thirteen-year-old student. He quickly encounters a rival, George Hellebore, an older boy with a wealthy and overbearing father. James participates in a tournament to compete for the Hellebore cup, thus ratcheting up the pressure on his relationship with George Hellebore.
But the real action begins when James travels to a small village in Scotland for the Easter holidays, to stay with his aunt and uncle (the loner James is, not surprisingly, an orphan). On the way north he meets up with Kelly, an older Irish boy who is headed to the same small village to look for a cousin who has disappeared. George Hellebore is also on the train, heading to the same small village, where his father owns a castle. James and Kelly come to suspect that the cousin's disappearance has to do with Lord Hellebore's mysterious castle, located on Loch Silverfin. They investigate, and end up in mortal peril. There's also a beautiful girl on a horse, a fast sports car that James learns to drive, an incompetent Pinkerton's detective, and creepy bio-engineered eels.
Like the movies, this book is a fun romp without much substance. While I was entertained by seeing links between the young James and the spy that he would become, I also thought that these links took away from Silverfin as a story. They were like red herrings that didn't connect to anything in the current story. That said, I think that teenagers who enjoy the James Bond movies will find this book an entertaining, fast-paced ride. Even kids who aren't familiar with the movies will probably enjoy James' self-reliance and bravery, and the creepiness of the Scottish castle with its hidden, evil laboratory. But adult readers of children's books will probably want to hold out for something with more depth.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.