Another book down in the Ian Fleming collection of amazing Bond books. Next in line is Moonraker. So, does Moonraker live up to the previous books, or explode like a faulty missile? Read on to find out…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from the back cover is as follows: Moonraker, Britain’s
new ICBM-based national defense system, is ready for testing, but
something’s not quite right. At M’s request, Bond begins his
investigation with Sir Hugo Drax, the leading card shark at M’s club,
who is also the head of the Moonraker project. But once Bond delves
deeper into the goings-on at the Moonraker base, he discovers that both
the project and its leader are something other than they appear to be.
Fans of the movie Moonraker need to step aside with this one. The movie was made to compete with Star Wars and only took a few bits and pieces of the storyline from the novel. In fact, it’s so different, a separate novel titled James Bond and Moonraker was published in 1979, written by Christopher Wood, which is based on the movie. So, what the heck is Ian Fleming’s Moonraker about then, if it isn’t’ about giant space battles? Well, it’s actually a pretty simple story.
Moonraker starts off very much in the same vein as Casino Royale, with M asking Bond to come with him to the card club, Blades and find out if a local player, by the name of Sir Hugo Drax, is cheating at cards. This is Bond’s first encounter with Drax and won’t be his last, as he is tasked in finding out what exactly is going on at the Moonraker project, a missile defense program, being spear headed by Drak. Going undercover, Bond meets the beautiful Gala Brand (of course you gotta have a beautiful Bond girl, it just wouldn’t be right). From there, Bond and Brand team up together and get roped up in something that could potentially kill millions of lives.
I loved that Fleming started Moonraker off with a good dose of Casino Royale, my favorite in the entire series. Fleming is probably the only person who could make card playing so damn exciting and that he does, with the beginning of this book. From there, the story gets even more high stakes, as Bond investigates further and further into the Moonraker missile project and learns not everything is as it seems. This turns out to be one of James Bond’s hardest missions, as he beaten, nearly killed several times and finally come the end, his non violent and most personal plan, falls apart. This is not exactly the Bond of the movies, I can tell you that much.
If I had to have any complaints for Moonraker, it would be that ending comes up way too quickly and the bad guys are dispatched in a farfetched fashion. Bond doesn’t go face to face with anyone and the ending echos Live and Let Die, a little too closely. Still, these are small complaints, that only come into play near the end of the book. The rest is pretty much stellar writing, laced with action, suspense and Bond, James Bond, being the suave 00 he always has been.
Moonraker grounds itself in reality, but still manages to reach the lofty heights of being a thrilling, edge of your seat story, with it’s fantastic writing from Ian Fleming, it’s suspense laced chapters and minimalistic problems, that only come up near the end. Moonraker soars just as high as the other Bond books in the series. Ian Fleming, you’re on a roll my dear fellow.
Rating: 4.5/5 (-0.5 for an ending that’s oddly familiar and a little disappointing. +4.5 for everything positive I listed above.)