The Summer of Reading Series is one part commentary and one part analysis. Each post includes both a review of a book that I've recently read and, perhaps more importantly, the positive and negative aspects of the writing and the story within. The goal of this series is to learn lessons that will help make myself, and anyone reading this, a better writer and storyteller! Enjoy...
Carte Blanche 007 by Jeffery Deaver
Being a huge fan of both the James Bond films and books (as evidenced by my Ian Fleming-inspired spy novel, Once in a Blue Moon), I was more than excited to dive into the newest Bond novel - Carte Blanche. First off, Deaver's book features an interesting tale that's told in typical Fleming fashion - it's a classic Bond story through and through. Deaver does an admirable job of updating the classic characters for the modern age.
The story itself is, surprisingly, very current, focusing on real-world issues like sustainability and world hunger, and yet it offers a fresh approach and point-of-view towards the topic by focusing on a little-discussed problem: what happens to our garbage! The novel also feels like it was extensively researched and will educate readers on everything from intelligence and security issues, foreign countries, and little-known industries - which is a good thing.
In terms of the narrative-style, Deaver tells the story in the 3rd-person, with multiple perspectives, both good (Bond) and bad (the villains, Hydt and Dunne). Deaver also makes heavy use of the "reader in the dark" style of narration, which purposely omits important details and facts that the narrator would know, in order to build suspense before revealing those details. In a way, however, this style only makes the reader feel cheap - and a bit distrustful towards the narrator!
+ The story focuses on an intriguing and fascinating topic - garbage - and invites the reader to lean about this new and surprisingly interesting aspect of our world
+ The author builds a stable of interesting and unique characters, who are each memorable due to distinct physical and personality characteristics (ie. a gold earring, long fingernails, etc.)
+ Throughout the journey, the reader builds a very strong connection with the protagonist, Bond - we understand him and feel for him. He's very human.
- The scenarios and situations were almost too mundane - they weren't extravagant or outlandish enough for a Bond story!
- The author introduces way too many characters, and spends a lot of time on their exposition. Most of these characters ultimately turn out to be inconsequential to the story and end up disappearing, which is confusing and unsatisfying.
- As hinted at above, the scheming narrator turns out to be a major annoyance to the reader. The reader should ideally look to the narrator to help them understand the story and its world - but in this case, the narrator is used as a device to build suspense.