Young Bond: Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole

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Young Bond: Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: The name's Bond, Young Bond. Before James became Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he was Master Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Join him on another adventure that seems him flying to America to watch a movie he could just die for.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Doubleday Childrens
External links: Author's website

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Shoot to Kill may be the sixth Young Bond in the series, but it is the first to be written by Steve Cole. He has taken over the reins from the highly capable Charlie Higson. Like the adult Bond books, the character has seen many people write about him since Ian Fleming’s death, so there is no reason to think the quality would suddenly drop after a new author comes on board. In fact, Cole is able to inject a little more energy into a series that was starting to flag.

At the age of 14/15, many of the characteristics of Bond already exist; he tends to keep to himself, he is decisive, but also sometimes quick to anger. After being expelled from Eton, Bond is shipped off to an experimental boarding school and from there onto an adventure in Hollywood. Someone in the studio system happens to be moonlighting as a cameraman for films that contain very realistic portrayals of torture and death. Perhaps a little too realistic.

The secret to enjoying ‘Shoot to Kill’ is to allow your imagination to run with it and not ask too many questions. The process of getting Bond to LA is a little contrived, but what an adventure. Set during the 30s, the rise of Hitler and the Hollywood Studio system, Cole is able to evoke a real sense of time and place that is often missing from the adult Bond books. A decent proportion of the book is set on a Zeppelin as it flies over the Atlantic. The way that Cole explores the ship itself, as well as the action that takes place upon it, is very impressive.

Once Bond lands in America the book starts to develop his relationship with the other school children who have taken part in the trip. It is interesting to see how guarded Bond is even at this young age, but if you have read the earlier books in the ‘Young Bond’ series you will know why this is the case. At a young age, this version of Bond has already seen far too much evil for one lifetime.

There are various action set pieces in the book that are great fun, 9-13 year olds are catered for very well. The events are explained clearly, without being patronising. Some additional questions may need to be asked of a parent about certain words or 1930s lifestyle, but a book aimed at this age group should have some level of challenge. One of the biggest misgivings would be for the fainter of heart. There is some violence in ‘Shoot to Kill’ that is pretty full on. Several people are killed and although the gore is fleeting, it is certainly present. This is worth keeping in mind.

What impressed me most about ‘Shoot to Kill’ was Cole’s ability to create a contained story that moved the character of James Bond on, but stayed true to the Fleming vision. Children will love the action elements of this book, but even an adult who is a fan of Bond can get some sneaky pleasure out of the book. Some of the set pieces and characters are better developed and written than in a few of the recent ‘Old Bond’ outings.

There seems to be a trend of releasing books and films that explore the development of a character before they grew into the adult that we know and love. Do we really want to know how Han Solo got so cocky, or why Sherlock Holmes learnt to investigate? The answer is assuredly yes, because if the public didn’t buy ‘em, the developers wouldn’t make ‘em. When done well a glimpse into the youthful days of our heroes and heroines can allow us to develop even more affection for them.

If you are looking for more young teen adventure try out Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. Perhaps you are wondering what happened to Young Bond alumni Charlie Higson? He went on to write some more great children's books such as The Enemy.

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Buy Young Bond: Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Young Bond: Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole at


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