Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Casino Royale (James Bond #1)" by Ian Fleming

I feel slimy after reading this book. I didn't expect to ever feel slimy from reading a book, but I do. I would consider this a cross between reading A Game of Thrones, where Dany is subjected to some pretty unethical treatment, and reading a book I deem a bad romance, where the hero is clearly an abusive troll and the heroine follows his every command.

The only way I was able to read this was by the boon of reinvention: I made James and Vesper swap roles, so Vesper could tell James to get back in the kitchen with his "pots and pans". I also reglazed my eyes while James told Vesper how gambling works, researched an obscure ancestor of mine known as "Black Jack" who ran a casino in Las Vegas, then skimmed through large chunks of book I didn't give a ha'penny about.

So yes, the first half of this book is completely snore-worthy. The action you'd think would be instantaneous in a Bond novel doesn't kick in 'til later.

The Plot:
James is set to break Le Chiffre's bank (via gambling) so he can't be an evil mastermind and support the Communist cause. With a little help from his friends Mathis, Vesper, and Felix Leiter (a Texan who clearly is the prime example of why U.S. is in debt right now), will Bond be able to pull it off?

Hmm... you want me to say something nice about this book, like why I gave it three stars? Fine. It's like this: once it picks up, it's everything you'd expect from having watched Bond movies. Torture, death threats, car chases, oh my! I stand by the fact that reimagining this book makes it more bearable, but it's still weird reading it when you happen to be female. I imagine it's much like the discomfort of men reading Fifty Shades of Grey: "Is this what women think of men? Good God- I don't think I can go on, but it's strangely compelling."

By far the strangest part of this book was the ending. Of course, I can't discuss at length why the ending was so strange, but it seemed like the characters were very 'out of character'. There is an odd sense of instalove, which makes one wonder if men like this in their thriller romances, as opposed to what I thought was the 'popular' opinion: instalove = very bad.

*Random Musings*:

My favorite part of the book was seeing Le Chiffre get his moment in the spotlight.

I'm beginning to think James Bond's mother was Dolores Umbridge, because how else could he have turned out so subpar?

I've read Bibles less patriarchal than this book...

*End Random Musings*

Casino Royale isn't what you expect it would be, if you loved the Bond movies (like I still do). Thankfully, even if you hate the main character in books, there is always the villain to cheer for. That is the case with this book- it is so gauchely sexist at times that I found myself gnashing my teeth while waiting for the villain to have his moments. And he did. And it was well worth wading through Bond's morass of idiotic misogyny just to embrace my darker side.

I recommend this book only to those willing to put up with its outdated ideals and strange chemistry- if you're not a fan of Bond movies, it probably isn't worth your time.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good plot with a villain to cheer for!

Content: Ages 18+ for torture scenes, misogyny (including, but not limited to name calling), and weird, borderline creepy instalove.

Page Count: 189 pages in the Kindle edition.

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