Review: Casino Royale

Posted 28 September, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Casino Royale (James Bond #1)
By: Ian Fleming
Format/Source: eBook

In the first of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, 007 declares war on Le Chiffre, French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH.

The battle begins with a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat, gains momentum during Bond’s fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy, and reaches a chilling climax with fiendish torture at the hands of a master sadist. For incredible suspense, unexpected thrills, and extraordinary danger, nothing can beat James Bond in his inaugural adventure.

Suffice to say I’ve been wanting to read one of the James Bond novels for as long as I’ve known that the movies were based off books. Book covers would change, milestones would be reached, and still I kept on pushing off reading anything from the series. It was only recently with my family marathoning the movies that I decided to finally pick up one of the novels to read 😛

Reading this book, I finally understood where reviews were coming from saying how the movie with Daniel Craig was pretty close to Ian Fleming’s story. I remembered much from the movie as I was reading the book, and having seen a few of the movies, yeah, Daniel Craig is pretty close to how James Bond was written in the novel: he’s cold, calculated, prepared to kill at any given moment. He loves to gamble, he loves his drinks, and then there are the ladies. But wow, talk about the amount of misogyny present in this book; I sort of had an inkling about it before, but there were a lot of problematic instances in this novel when it came to James Bond and the way he understood and interacted with women. That was definitely a turn-off with this novel.

The story itself was interesting; again, if you’ve seen the movie, you’d recognise what the story was about. The first half of the novel was pretty intense with the high-stakes gambling against a Frenchman with ties to the Soviet Union’s SMERSH. I admit, despite the explanation the details of the game totally went over my head, but it was intense nonetheless to read as James Bond tries to close in on Le Chiffre. The second half of the novel strangely enough putters out energy-wise as James falls for Vesper Lynd and tries to figure out what she’s hiding behind her cool demeanour. Again, it’s close to the movie, but the movie plumps it up a little and makes that story a little more interesting and action-packed whereas the book sort of just fizzles out with an “Oh, okay.”

Reading Casino Royale makes me wonder what it would have been like had the movie franchise started with this book as opposed to Dr. No. It’s a good enough introduction to James Bond and his world, though admittedly story-wise it was pretty uneven with its energy and from the contemporary standpoint it’s quite problematic in its treatment and attitude towards women. Vesper Lynd has the potential to be a tougher and more faceted character than what she was reduced to in the book and that was highlighted in the movie with Eva Green. So in that sense I think I’ll stick to the movie for this one, but I’m curious nonetheless to read what the other James Bond missions are about.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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4 Responses to “Review: Casino Royale”

  1. I’ve always wanted to read a James Bond book, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured it would be misogynistic, though. So, I’m not surprised there. Sad I was right, but not surprised.

  2. I’ve never read a James Bond book but I’ve been curious. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the movie version of this so it might not be my best choice. I am fond of Dr No though, so maybe I should start there. Maybe one of these days I’ll tackle one of these, although the misogyny- yeah I imagine that takes some dealing with. Thanks for sharing- nice review!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ve only seen the more recent James Bond movies (Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig) so I’m not too too familiar with his story but the books are certainly different from the movies. I’ve yet to read any of the other book since Casino Royale but we’ll see, one of these days.

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