Casino Royale (1953), Fleming's first Bond novel, wasn't what I'd expected, which was just as I expected. I'd seen all the Bond movies, some multiple times, but never read an Ian Fleming novel or short story. And I'd been looking forward to No Time to Die, the twenty-fifth installment of the film series, now pushed back to November since it's no time to brave catching Covid in a crowded theater. Friends over the years had said the books aren't anything like the movies, some pointing out that the Bond of the books is more flesh and blood than the iconic immortal of the silver screen. So I expected the character to take on a new imagined form as I read, and he did. Fleming delved into the psychology and sexuality of JB; these are detailed and evolved in the novel, whereas in the movies we're given a somewhat superficial presentation of who Bond truly is deep down. We see him act, and others react to his actions, and some glimpses as to why, but in the book we're brought into his head. This makes him less of a superhuman and more someone we can vicariously experience (no idea if he becomes less human as the book series progresses). That said, I thought Casino Royale (2006) the film was a fair reflection of the novel, although augmented for the 21st century with state-of-the-art gadgetry, a more culturally diverse set of villains, and less of the romance that fills a few chapters at the end of the novel. What else surprised me were the parts of the book that I'd thought would not be there but rather only in the movie. The brutal torture scene, for example. I figured this had been added to the story for contemporary, seen-it-all-before audiences, but there it was in the book, just as excruciating. On the whole, Casino Royale consists of quick, easy chapters, is more thriller than action-adventure, and is an all-around fast, fun ride.
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