SOLO by William Boyd - Reviews & Feedback

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  • I like the Boyd interviews Bond.
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 267
    Villiers53 wrote:
    Bounine wrote:
    Villiers53 wrote:
    I also attended Thursday's launch event and although I felt Boyd's interview with Olivia Cole was a little mechanical and didn't bring anything new, it didn't dampen my enthusiasm and by the time I was on the train home, I was even starting to like the cover.
    By the time I'd left Waterloo, I'd finished the first chapter and from there on in, I only stopped turning the pages to sleep, walk the dog and play tennis until I finished it last night.
    Must have been a gripper then?
    If only — my page turning was driven by pure shock. I simply couldn't believe how a supposedly renowned author could make such a pigs breakfast out of things and having finished Solo, my overwhelming feeling is one of complete sadness. It's like I've just experienced the literary death of a character I've loved for forty nine years and have slipped into mourning.
    In my opinion, Boyd has just trousered the cash and done us over. The plot is absolutely farcical. It begins with Bond receiving a cardboard briefing from 'M' (these exchanges were always a high point in any Bond read — not here, it's virtually like they don't know each other) and from there we are just taken from one stupid incident to another.
    @Bentley mentioned what he called the "Home Invasion Scene" and it is a good example of what we have to put up with but there are many others — when he takes our hero to Washington, we are asked to believe that he is stupid enough to walk into the wrong neighbourhood (not too bright this Bond) and beats up three would be muggers in the most unbelievable fashion. The book is riddled with the ridiculous and to be honest I can't think of a saving grace.
    Guns, girls, cars, violence and glamorous places are Bonds stock in trade and it is pretty clear to me that within the context of this example Boyd has little enthusiasm for any of the aforementioned — at one point he even has him donning a cream shirt with a pale blue knitted tie - unbelievable!
    I do think that when this turkey does the rounds it could be the death nel because although Bond fans like us will be offended and then talk about what went wrong. A casual reader would probably bin it after forty pages. When you consider it is competing this month with new books from the likes of Robert Harris and Frederick Forsyth any Solo sales will be down to the Bond name and after the Faulks/Deaver debacle there has to be limit to how many times IFP can insult people by allowing our icon to be abused in such a cynical way.
    Save your money!

    Just out of curiosity, what do you think of the Gardner books? Do you like any of them?

    "Solo sales will be down to the Bond name and after the Faulks/Deaver debacle there has to be limit to how many times IFP can insult people by allowing our icon to be abused in such a cynical way."

    I have to agree if I don't end up liking this book and it sounds as though this might be the case — something I have suspected since day one and for good reason. I won't say anything more though. I need to start reading it first after I've finished the other two novels I'm reading but I'm in no hurry now. Really, if I don't like this book either then I think it's finally time they put a stop to this adult Bond books being written by different authors move. They probably won't though.

    Yes, @ Bounine, I do like the first six John Gardner Bond books.
    I thought Gardner was a fine writer and a very nice man to boot. I particularly liked "Licence Renewed" and "Role Of Honour". For me, they were his best.
    The great thing that John did was to give us a very credible reboot for the 1980s.
    There hadn't been a book since Amis' excellent Colonel Sun in 1968 and we'd been thirteen years without 007. He succeeded in giving us a series that maintained completely Flemings high old tone whilst setting Bond firmly in the '80s with a slightly revised raison d'être. The first five stories (with the exception of "For Special Services") were well plotted and I think he did a damn fine job.
    That said, I do think he stayed at it fare too long. That was probably more IFP's fault (or Gildrose as they were back then) than John's. I say that because in my opinion the quality dropped away quite dramatically after "No Deals, Mr.Bond".They should have drawn a line on it and found a quality successor. I think he (John) lost interest and wished he was writing other things. I used to dialogue with him in the latter stage of his life and he was completely charming.
    Back to our current dilemma, after Boyd's absolute clunker, I think that IFP should definitely freeze their celebrity author strategy and go, as you suggested earlier, on bended knee and beg Higson to take up the adult mantel by following his project through the war years. Wether this will happen will doubtless be purely a financial decision. After what we can safely label "The Celebrity Trilogy Disaster," I am firmly of the opinion that Lucy Fleming and the IFP gang have zero interest in the qualitative end of things or what the fans think. They are after our wonga, pure and simple. I wish them all the worst in this because we, the fans, deserve better but the Bond brand is hugely strong and is capable of withstanding all sorts of abuse so perhaps the normal rules of diminishing return don't apply? But, I for one, won't be buying any more dross. Enough is definitely enough!

    Interesting that @Villiers53 describes himself as being "in mourning" - exactly how I feel - bloody stupid really. It's only a book at the end of the day but when you've waited for something for so long and you'r let down like this, it is completely exhausting.
    Couldn't agree more about the summation of Gardner's contribution. The first few are excellent and my personal favourite is definitely "Licence Renewed".
    I'm also completely in harmony about the only way forward. Higson, were are you? Your country needs you!
  • I'm halfway through it yet, and although I enjoy reading it, I'm still waiting for the plot to be interesting. You've got most of the ingredient that reminds you of Fleming atmosphere. Bond is indeed depressed, has all his usual habits and tiny details about the way he lives and he eats, but nothing new is brought. SO far, I'm feeling like I'm following an ageing Bond stuck in his obsessional habits and visiting Africa without anything such as a stake, a motivation or a real danger despite the guerilla going up. I'm looking forward for some more action ! When I think I was complaining about Carte Blanche having a twist every other pages, it wouldn't hurt to have a few here and there.
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,534
    Ytterbium wrote:
    I'm halfway through it yet, and although I enjoy reading it, I'm still waiting for the plot to be interesting. You've got most of the ingredient that reminds you of Fleming atmosphere. Bond is indeed depressed, has all his usual habits and tiny details about the way he lives and he eats, but nothing new is brought. SO far, I'm feeling like I'm following an ageing Bond stuck in his obsessional habits and visiting Africa without anything such as a stake, a motivation or a real danger despite the guerilla going up. I'm looking forward for some more action ! When I think I was complaining about Carte Blanche having a twist every other pages, it wouldn't hurt to have a few here and there.

    So, if you were to compare it to TV, would you say that it's more like watching the horrible "Big Brother" and other such reality shows? We follow characters around but nothing happens?

    Sounds like Boyd should have just created a basic relatively straight forward plot and merely set it against the backdrop of the civil war.

    Is there much suspense in the Washington scenes?
  • Posts: 2,534
    Bounine wrote:
    Villiers53 wrote:
    I also attended Thursday's launch event and although I felt Boyd's interview with Olivia Cole was a little mechanical and didn't bring anything new, it didn't dampen my enthusiasm and by the time I was on the train home, I was even starting to like the cover.
    By the time I'd left Waterloo, I'd finished the first chapter and from there on in, I only stopped turning the pages to sleep, walk the dog and play tennis until I finished it last night.
    Must have been a gripper then?
    If only - my page turning was driven by pure shock. I simply couldn't believe how a supposedly renowned author could make such a pigs breakfast out of things and having finished Solo, my overwhelming feeling is one of complete sadness. It's like I've just experienced the literary death of a character I've loved for fourty nine years and have slipped into mourning.
    In my opinion, Boyd has just trousered the cash and done us over. The plot is absolutely farcical. It begins with Bond recieving a cardboard briefing from 'M' (these exchanges were always a high point in any Bond read - not here, it's virtually like they don't know each other) and from there we are just taken from one stupid incident to another.
    @Bentley mentioned what he called the "Home Invasion Scene" and it is a good example of what we have to put up with but there are many others - when he takes our hero to Washington, we are asked to believe that he is stupid enough to walk into the wrong neighbourhood (not too bright this Bond) and beats up three would be muggers in the most unbelievable fashion. The book is riddled with the ridiculous and to be honest I can't think of a saving grace.
    Guns, girls, cars, violence and glamorous places are Bonds stock in trade and it is pretty clear to me that within the context of this example Boyd has little enthusiasm for any of the aforementioned - at one point he even has him donning a cream shirt with a pale blue knitted tie - unbelievable!
    I do think that when this turkey does the rounds it could be the death nel because although Bond fans like us will be offended and then talk about what went wrong. A casual reader would probably bin it after fourty pages. When you consider it is competing this month with new books from the likes of Robert Harris and Frederick Forsyth any Solo sales will be down to the Bond name and after the Faulks/Deaver debacle there has to be limit to how many times IFP can insult people by allowing our icon to be abused in such a cynical way.
    Save your money!

    Just out of curiosity, what do you think of the Gardner books? Do you like any of them?

    "Solo sales will be down to the Bond name and after the Faulks/Deaver debacle there has to be limit to how many times IFP can insult people by allowing our icon to be abused in such a cynical way."

    I have to agree if I don't end up liking this book and it sounds as though this might be the case - something I have suspected since day one and for good reason. I won't say anything more though. I need to start reading it first after I've finished the other two novels I'm reading but I'm in no hurry now. Really, if I don't like this book either then I think it's finally time they put a stop to this adult Bond books being written by different authors move. They probably won't though.

    Since I very much like the first half of Gardner's books and Scorpius, I was thinking that if you didn't then I might like Solo. Sadly, it just doesn't sound like I will.

    A light blue tie? Not into them myself and it isn't a colour I can see Bond wearing except in the films. I have to say though, it's not as bad as the burgundy tie Deaver had Bond wearing. This doesn't make it right though.

    It just amazes me how two authors who have written good books could get Bond so wrong...and now it seems like it's happened to a third. It's clearly not working. If Higson isn't available then get Weinberg to do it. The Moneypenny Diaries are great reads. Unfortunately it seems like IFP are only interested in hiring well known authors. It's like the music situation in the films where Eon only get well known names instead of people like Shirley Bassey for example. Bond is a household name. I don't think hiring a less known author would make any real difference. If someone was commissioned to write at least five books or even three, then if they wrote one bad one they could at least learn by gauging the criticism and studying the Fleming books more closely then improve on the last one. This obviously can't happen when we only have a different author per book.
  • just bin it. Problem solvemd.
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,534
    I've already bought it. I'm not going to throw it away without reading it. That's criminal. I shouldn't say any more until I begin reading it. Well, until I've actually finished reading it.
  • Posts: 1,197
    This is the first Bond novel I have not RUN out to buy IMMEDIATELY........ why is that?
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,534
    Too many bad reviews by the Bond fans I guess. Although, only 2 or 3 so far. The other reviews out there at the moment are generally positive though which is interesting. Some of the writers might very well know less about Bond though but still... It'll be interesting to see how this book plays out when I read it.
  • retrokittyretrokitty The Couv
    Posts: 380
    @Bounine, the positive reviews I've read seem to be from generic reviewers and not Bond experts or fans. Also, they seem to want to pet and massage Boyd, which I find sickening.
  • Posts: 5,767
    Villiers53 wrote:
    ...it is competing this month with new books from the likes of Robert Harris and Frederick Forsyth ...
    Just ´cause you mentioned it, Forsyth´s The Death list is perfectly recommendable. In case anyone´s into Forsyth.

  • Posts: 267
    retrokitty wrote:
    @Bounine, the positive reviews I've read seem to be from generic reviewers and not Bond experts or fans. Also, they seem to want to pet and massage Boyd, which I find sickening.

    You aren't wrong there @retrokitty.
    Some sycophant in today's "Sunday Times" gives Solo a fabulous review. Praises every aspect and compares it with the best of early Fleming. Everybody has their view but only the lobotomised could possibly describe Boyd's novel as remotely well plotted or in any way reminiscent of early Fleming. Happily internet reviews will ensure that the truth will out and I absolutely love @villiers53's describing Solo as the third instalment in "The Bond Celebrity Trilogy Disaster".
  • Posts: 4,790
    Seems to me Rick Castle should have accepted that contract, after all.

    I have not read it yet. I will wait until the mass trade paperback edition. And after the disastrously botched job done on Carte Blanche, I will certainly not buy the french translation.
  • retrokittyretrokitty The Couv
    Posts: 380
    Oh man... This Boyd character has gone mad. This is far more about him and his Bond fandom than it is about giving Bond fans a great Bond novel. Or so it would seem.

    I hope a no-name writer gets the contract for the next novel. Spread the wealth and give someone who loves the character and knows the score a chance to kick the can. The writers on this forum would do a much better job.
  • Samuel001Samuel001 Moderator
    Posts: 13,305
    It's a real shame it's three out of three. Better luck next time I guess. May 2016 would be my guess for the release date.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    "And so, out of the Bond barrel, comes another book – to even out the revenue-stream and give the publicists something to work with during a long gap necessitated by the painstaking process of filming Daniel Craig falling off things." That's bloody hilarious.
    :))
  • Moved to post to this forum for the first time despite having a regular mi6-hq reader for years, but I have just finished "Solo" and I must say I am so disappointed. The book feels rushed and, in places, contrived. Bond is portrayed as an an alcoholic and spends most of the first half of the book as an observer. After a nice crunching finish to the villain, the final pages just do not make sense to me.
    Are we allowed to discuss the text here or is that classed as a spoiler in this thread?
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    Sadly, the more I read about it the less enthusiastic I become.
    I'll follow up on getting Scorpius for now, and get this book in paperback later, unless Sir Henry, timmer or MajorDSmythe give it a glowing & heartwarming review...
  • Pegasus007 wrote:
    Moved to post to this forum for the first time despite having a regular mi6-hq reader for years, but I have just finished "Solo" and I must say I am so disappointed. The book feels rushed and, in places, contrived. Bond is portrayed as an an alcoholic and spends most of the first half of the book as an observer. After a nice crunching finish to the villain, the final pages just do not make sense to me.
    Are we allowed to discuss the text here or is that classed as a spoiler in this thread?

    Probably, for the sake of those that yet to be pained by it, we should stay away from too much detail and stick to summations of the different aspects.
    For me, the whole thing is just completely dysfunctional. For example, when I consider the parts surrounding travel documents and Bond retrieving his firearm, they are scenarios that wouldn't make it into Austin Powers.
    The only two passages that read well in the entire book were published in last week's 'Times' and that lulled me into a complete misplaced sense of euphoria and are, surprise, surprise, the parts that Boyd has read at public events.
    As you rightly say, the drinking is just laugh out loud funny. If anybody seriously put that much away they'd have to be carried into rehab!
    Something that is also bizarre are the constant mentions in the early part of the book about Bond's sore throat and the difficulty he was having swallowing. At one point, I thought the twist was going to be the development of a smoking related disease but, like the rest of the story, his sore throat never went anywhere. Perhaps Boyd forgot he had it — he certainly forgot the rest of the plot!
  • Posts: 267
    Villiers53 wrote:
    Pegasus007 wrote:
    Moved to post to this forum for the first time despite having a regular mi6-hq reader for years, but I have just finished "Solo" and I must say I am so disappointed. The book feels rushed and, in places, contrived. Bond is portrayed as an an alcoholic and spends most of the first half of the book as an observer. After a nice crunching finish to the villain, the final pages just do not make sense to me.
    Are we allowed to discuss the text here or is that classed as a spoiler in this thread?

    Probably, for the sake of those that yet to be pained by it, we should stay away from too much detail and stick to summations of the different aspects.
    For me, the whole thing is just completely dysfunctional. For example, when I consider the parts surrounding travel documents and Bond retrieving his firearm, they are scenarios that wouldn't make it into Austin Powers.
    The only two passages that read well in the entire book were published in last week's 'Times' and that lulled me into a complete misplaced sense of euphoria and are, surprise, surprise, the parts that Boyd has read at public events.
    As you rightly say, the drinking is just laugh out loud funny. If anybody seriously put that much away they'd have to be carried into rehab!
    Something that is also bizarre are the constant mentions in the early part of the book about Bond's sore throat and the difficulty he was having swallowing. At one point, I thought the twist was going to be the development of a smoking related disease but, like the rest of the story, his sore throat never went anywhere. Perhaps Boyd forgot he had it — he certainly forgot the rest of the plot!

    Now my anger has faded, I'm starting to see the funny side of this. Perhaps IFP and Boyd are just having a Giraffe at our expense?
    Take the issue of the passport. When you consider that Forsyth detailed in '71's 'Day Of The Jackal' exactly how to obtain a counterfeit, here we are in 2013 and the best our foremost literati can come up with is steal a would be girlfriend's passport and doctor it because actress can be easily altered to actor, her name could be masculine and their ages are similar — she is 36 and he is 45. Oh yea — that will work for the cretins that read this type of stuff. Wait 'till I tell Faulksy down the pub about this one I bet he'll spill his beer!
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    Villiers53 wrote:
    As you rightly say, the drinking is just laugh out loud funny. If anybody seriously put that much away they'd have to be carried into rehab!
    Well, is it that Bond gets drunk too much, or just that he drinks a lot & that's too much drinking per chapter? :-?
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,534
    retrokitty wrote:
    @Bounine, the positive reviews I've read seem to be from generic reviewers and not Bond experts or fans. Also, they seem to want to pet and massage Boyd, which I find sickening.

    The do seem somewhat generalised and lacking in detailed specifics. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the reviewers have only skimmed parts of the book.

    I've had major doubts concerning a positive future for the celebrity Bond writing affair since I finished reading Deaver's Carte Blanche. Although I did begin feeling slightly more positive towards Boyd's future Bond book following many fans' positive sentiments. What have we as Bond fans done to deserve this? It's even more heart wrenchingly saddening as New Zealand losing the America's cup to the USA when the latter were down by 6 or 7 races and came back to be the first to reach 9 wins and take the trophy. Utterly depressing.

  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 34,989
    I'll take a pass on this. It's a huge gamble and I'll just wait until it's on paperback or something to save lots of money, if I decide to even read it at all.
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,534
    From now on, I'll never buy a Bond book unless the fans speak highly of it. If it's yet another stinker which I strongly suspect it will be, I'll wait until it's available in the library. I shouldn't prattle on so much though until I actually read the book. I'm being too premature in my ranting.

    The best move though I think is to have a less well known author or even a well known one to sign a 5 book deal. Then they can learn from their mistakes. The odds in getting a one off book written for the first and probably the last time is not favourable I don't think. The latter may be unlikely to do this though in which case IFP should opt for the former which unfortunately I'm seeing as less and less likely as time goes by.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 34,989
    Perhaps instead of always resorting back to Fleming (because with these past three books, it appears that hasn't gone well whatsoever), why not have the next author revert back to the previous three books and see what the authors did wrong?
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,534
    Yes, it's a must really. I still think though that it would be good to have an author sign at least a 5 book deal.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 34,989
    Bounine wrote:
    Yes, it's a must really. I still think though that it would be good to have an author sign at least a 5 book deal.

    Or a deal of ANY sort. Like you said, let them (hopefully) learn from their mistakes. Next time, write for the hardcore Bond fans, the ones that are lining up to get your book day one.
  • retrokittyretrokitty The Couv
    Posts: 380
    Bounine wrote:
    It's even more heart wrenchingly saddening as New Zealand losing the America's cup to the USA when the latter were down by 6 or 7 races and came back to be the first to reach 9 wins and take the trophy. Utterly depressing.

    What happened there?! I work at a yacht club so we had the races streaming for the members each day... Yikenheimers... !

  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,534
    retrokitty wrote:
    Bounine wrote:
    It's even more heart wrenchingly saddening than New Zealand losing the America's cup to the USA when the latter were down by 6 or 7 races and came back to be the first to reach 9 wins and take the trophy. Utterly depressing.

    What happened there?! I work at a yacht club so we had the races streaming for the members each day... Yikenheimers... !

    The America's Cup is pretty much all about money which is why I don't see it as a true sporting/yachting event. I'm not trying to slag off the American team here (funny to call it that when it is/was comprised predominantly of Australians and Kiwis and skippered by an Aussie) but to be frank, NZ didn't have any where near as much money behind them and couldn't afford to tinkle around with the technology like the Americans could. The American boat was financed by a billionaire, American in nationality, and they ended up putting in an automatic foiling system and probably other gadgets part way in the competition that lead the boat to be quite notably faster than the NZ one. America sailed very well as did NZ but in the end it really did come back to technology which lead to a faster boat. The skills of the sailors on both teams were just excellent and almost flawless from both sides. In this aspect they were equal. Unfortunately their win really was attributed to a faster boat plain and simple. Just like in the literary Bond world, the rules need to be changed. In terms of the yachting, every team should have an equal budget. There were two races too where NZ were streaming ahead prior to the point in the competition when the American boat became much faster and both races were cancelled due to bad weather. There was another time too when NZ won by quite a way but the winds were too light, and the race couldn't be finished by the 40 minute time limit so the win didn't count. Lashings of bad luck for the Kiwis. Oh well, c'est la vie...

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