Goldeneye Novelization


Title: Goldeneye

Author: John Gardner

Year: 1995

Genre: Spy/Thriller, Novelization

Goldeneye by John Gardner is the 1995 novelization of the James Bond movie of the same name, which I have already reviewed here.

NB: This review does contain spoilers for both the book and the movie.

I had heard that John Gardner did a couple of James Bond novelizations and also had heard about the Americanisation of his novels when he was writing so I did want to see how they compared to Ian Fleming’s novels and also if they would be as good when it is a Bond movie that is the source material rather than the book being adapted into a movie.

The basic plot of this book is the same as the movie, the action begins in 1986 when Bond is on a mission along with 006, Alec Trevelyan, to destroy a Soviet weapons facility called Arkangel when during the mission Alec is killed by General Ourumov.

10 years later Bond is in Monte Carlo where he meets the mysterious Xenia Onatopp. Onatopp is a former Soviet fighter pilot expected to be working for the Janus Group, a Russian crime syndicate where she is meeting an Admiral of the French Navy. She goes back to the ship with him and murders him in a with her very powerful thighs during sex.

Bond breaks onto the boat and realises that they plan to steal the Tigre helicopter an EMP hardened helicopter but he is too late to stop them. Back in MI6, Bond is called into an emergency room when they are monitoring an incident at a base Severnaya in Russia as the helicopter has turned up there. An EMP pulse suddenly hits the area, destroying the base and knocks all satellites.

The new female M suspects that the Soviet space weapon Goldeneye, which MI6 thought wasn’t real, actually is real and that Janus have stolen it. She sends Bond to find Goldeneye and stop whoever took it and what they plan to do with it. Will he succeed and also who was the mysterious figure picked up on the satellite as escaping from the base just after the blast.

If you have seen the movie, then pretty much the entire story is here in the novelization and overall it is a pretty fast-paced read.

Gardner doesn’t let the tension let up and he is very food at translating what happens on screen into the book and you do feel like you are with Bond in the key moments. For example when the movie came out much was made of the iconic Verzasca dam bungee jump scene which is only a few seconds in the film but in the book Gardner does take the time to explain the exact feelings Bond would have which helps you live the experience as him.

Also the tank sequence and the final battle with Trevelyan is very riveting and exciting to watch. if you have seen Goldeneye a few times you will notice a few minor differences in the script and lines which does make me wonder if Gardner had an early draft or screening of the film for example Xenia’s car is yellow Ferrari rather than a red one.

Gardner does make a couple of additions to the story but I actually found these to be quite minor and also pretty weak and also none of the characters are really expanded upon from their characters in the movie.

For example in the movie after the scene where Bond and Natalya escape the exploding train and it moves to Cuba for the final act, Gardner does fill in the gap but explains it away with Bond and Natalya getting disguises with Natalya getting a schoolgirl outfit which sounds stupid and kind of creepy.

He also does add some backstory to Natalya such as her living with her grandfather and we do read about her full journey to St. Petersburg from Severnaya but both of these sections seem tacked on and don’t really go anywhere.

Gardner does say his novels continue the timeline of Fleming’s work but is set in the modern day (this does mean Bond as a character must be about 60 years old in this story if Casino Royale is set in 1953).

I have commented in my reviews of the original books that there is some sexism which means the books haven’t aged well but in this book it seems even worse. The book was written in the 90s so it wasn’t that long ago but the attitudes Bond has towards the female characters seems to be very stuck in the past. Also there’s this weird section just after Natalya’s schoolgirl outfit where she and Wade discuss her knickers from the outfit which just out of place to me and though Fleming’ Bond did often call women around him “the girl” there wasn’t really any discussion of women’s underwear.

Overall it is an ok read but I wouldn’t really recommend it as the movie is significantly better than this and the praise I’m probably giving it for it’s pacing is probably due to how well paced the movie is rather than the book.

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