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You Only Live Twice

James Bond, Book 12
Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (197 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

James Bond seems unable to function after the death of his wife. Determined to restore 007 to the effective agent he used to be, M sends him on a mission to Japan, to the mysterious "Castle of Death", and into the lair of an old and terrifying enemy. For Bond and Blofeld, this will be their final encounter. Only one of them can survive.

This audiobook includes a bonus interview with Martin Jarvis.

Blackstone Audio, Inc. James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under license by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd

©1964 Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. (P)2014 Blackstone Audio

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 04-02-18

Speak of next year and the devil laughs

I’ve found that one must try and teach people that there’s no top limit to disaster – that, so long as breath remains in your body, you’ve got to accept the miseries of life. They will often seem infinite, insupportable. They are part of the human condition."
- Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice

Ian Fleming took James Bond off the interstate of his more traditional espionage novels with the last couple books. 'You Only Live Twice' is Fleming putting James back into the "game". The settting for most of this novel is Japan. Bond is hunting (for the Japanese) Dr. Guntram Shatterhand, who turns out to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. It is interesting enough, but seems a bit dated with the NINJA scenes and Yellow Face.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Way it Used to Be

I was in my teens the first time I read this. The world and what we knew of it was so much more exciting then. And much different. Listening to this book 50+ years later was nostalgic.

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Not this narrator...

Love the Bond books, and this one is good, but the narrator killed it for me.

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lively reading of Fleming's adventures

Fans of the movie will enjoy Martin Jarvis' amusing and at times moving read of You Only Live Twice. The story is very different from the outlandish 1967 film.,and quite an endearing in many ways. A very human Bond.

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Amazing Storytelling and Performance

You Only Live Twice is a great James Bond film but the story of the novel is even better. There are similarities but the variance of Shatterhand makes the book far better. It would be nice if this version comes to the screen in Bond 25 or somehow soon. The reader Martin Jarvis really inhabits the characters. His Bond is cool and relaxed and he really soars with his Tiger Tanaka and even Kissy Suzuki. A wonderful time. Thank you for this presentation.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Another high point in the series

This entry in the Bond series takes last volumes excellent Story and doubles down with this direct sequel. Nine months have passed since the end of the last book and Bond is a mess. He is on the verge of chucking his career and walk away from everything. M offers him an option in a mission to Japan.

He is very much a fish out of water as he tries to acclimate to the strange new culture. And acclimate he must because he is soon tasked with a mission by the head of the Japanese secret service. The mission is to assassinate a mysterious man who is encouraging suicidal behavior. When Bond discovers who that man is, Bond suddenly has purpose again. Vengeance.

From there, things get pretty hectic.

This story started to look like Fleming's attempt to put the character of James Bond to rest. Then he seems to have thought better of it.

I recommend this book highly. I consider it only second to On Her Majesties Secret Service as far as a high point of the series. Buy it.

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thrilling story lines

finally I thought this was a great great novel by a great writer I had a lot of difficulty with the Japanese pronunciations of the reader The Voice inflections of Tanaka where most annoying to me and incorrect Japanese pronunciations of words drove me crazy. but the finale is truly wonderful

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The worst Bond novel

I’m a fan of the series and was really excited for the conclusion of the Bond/Blofeld rivalry, but this was by far the worst book in the series and one of the worst novels I’ve ever read.

The performance was...a bit too flamboyant for my tastes. It took me out of the story repeatedly, which is unusual.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Death Gardens

Oh Bond. Not your finest work, or is it? In the wake of Tracy’s death, Bond is in a personal and professional tailspin, so M gives him a promotion. He is a member of the diplomatic core, and get secrets directly from Japan concerning Russia, something they were supposed to be getting, but weren’t because the CIA was cutting England out, and Japan thought England post-war was slipping.

It was sort of like a metaphor for Bond post-Tracy. I see what you did there, Fleming.

Enter Tiger Tanaka, the head of Japan’s Secret Service, and Bond’s future friend. He exchanges the intel if Bond agrees to do him a favor. He takes this as agreement that Bond will kill a major thorn in Japan’s side—a botanist from Switzerland who created a “Garden of Death.” It started as a place where the man started growing rare plants, but as many were poisonous, it became a destination for people seeking suicide. There were barracudas on the grounds. And other fun little death traps. Despite danger warnings, it’s popularity was only increasing, so Tiger wanted the man and his ugly wife dead.

He trained Bond in Japanese customs, got him set up on an island where he got ready to swim over in the company of a former Hollywood actress who dove naked for shells, and trained him a bit to be a ninja. Seriously, James Bond, ninja. Instead of eating eggs, he was eating live lobsters and tofu. He prayed to Shinto gods. He learned that the man who created the death garden was not Dr. Shatterhand, but Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who killed Tracy, and who he had tried to bring to justice before. If he hadn’t wanted to kill him before, he did now.

What is fascinating about this story is the notion of self. Bond loses his memory after an explosion, and the novel ends with him only beginning to recover it. For most of the novel, he immersed himself with the customs of another culture for the sake of a mission. When he has no memory, he lives for months without the burdens of James Bond, 007, killer, spy, English. Was Fleming trying to give Bond some happiness back that he had taken away by killing Tracy? It was a false happiness as it wasn’t his real identity, and she even sends him chasing a memory, instead of back to the friend she knows, Tiger. Strange ending to the Blofeld trilogy. James Bond cannot be settled, or happy. That is not his life.

Martin Jarvis is a good narrator. His Bond is more likable than in my imagination, but so are his other characters. His Tiger is amusing without being insensitive. Dicko is, but Fleming wrote the Aussie larger than life. There is only one section which Jarvis cannot save: a list of poisonous plants. I am fairly positive that no reading can make this interesting. In point of fact, I am not sure which is a more flagrant display of Fleming’s breadth of knowledge— his list of poisonous plants, or his unflinching grasp of Japanese culture. The latter certainly is more impressive with its fluidity.

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Too much time on Japanese culture

The book is nothing like the movie which is exciting in many ways because I had no idea what was going to happen, sadly the book takes way way WAY too much time on Japanese culture before it gets to Bonds true mission. I did thoroughly enjoy experiencing Bonds softer side and the climax was excellent just be aware it has its short comings.