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  • You Only Live Twice

  • James Bond, Book 12
  • Written by: Ian Fleming
  • Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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You Only Live Twice

Written by: Ian Fleming
Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
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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

What listeners say about You Only Live Twice

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Apt sequel to OHMSS

If you read or listened to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, you would have to follow it up with You Only Live Twice as both books work together. YOLT continues from where OHMSS leaves, taking us on the journey of Japan.

The Narrator, Martin Jarvis, does an excellent job. I liked how he plays Tiger Tanaka. Jarvis reminded me of Charles Gray in Diamonds are Forever. I gave Jarvis 4/5 for narration only because he sounded a little mature for Bond. But his brilliance shines as a narrator.

Overall, a great audiobook from the 007 celebrity performances series.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Most Realistic 'Bond' Book In The Series

This Ian Fleming offering still has the classic elements of his Spy Thrillers: a suave ludicrously-masculine Secret Agent, cartoonish bad guys, a comicbook-quality evil plot, sexy women, and heart-pounding action.. but also incorporates Le Carre-level gritty realism. 007 is on the verge of cracking up over the murder of his wife and is sent to Japan ostensibly on a rehabilitative mission to try and re-establish British influence in oriental espionage. While there, however, he uncovers a deadly plot and an opportunity for revenge.
The discussions of waning English intelligence capabilities in the late 50s/early 60s are incredibly mature. The book also demonstrates Fleming's well-researched grasp of post-war Japanese culture and their jawdropping bushido and caste systems. In fact, two-thirds of the story demonstrate an element of "Travel Book" exposition, as 007 is taught how to disguise himself as a lifelong Japanese by the fascinating 'Tiger Tanaka' and the beautiful 'Kissy Suzuki'.
Don't worry - this is also the third book in the 'SPECTRE' sub-series.. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (with his "too-ugly-to-live" murderous partner Irma Bunt) makes a sinister appearance. The battles, fistfights, and 'nick-of-time' escapes that fans have come to expect also contribute to the novel.

In this effort, Fleming strikes a deft balance between cerebral "international espionage literature" and rollercoaster-ride "action-thriller".

Also fortuitously, the performance from longtime BBC performer/accomplished voice-actor Martin Jarvis is typically excellent. He reads a little too slowly (listen to this recording at 1.15X), but the narration is otherwise exemplary - diction, cadence, timbre, tone, and voice-acting are spot-on.

At any rate, this is one of the best entries in the 'James Bond (Celebrity Recordings)' series. It merits a solid 9 stars out of 10. Spend the Credit.

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  • Darwin8u
  • 2018-04-02

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 people found this helpful

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  • Brandon
  • 2018-07-27

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • R. A. James
  • 2019-05-23

Not this narrator...

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Emil Grancagnolo
  • 2018-11-09

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Valentin Schmid
  • 2023-01-31

Worst Bond Novel — Skip It

This book is not a bond novel.

It is mostly an exposition of the culture of Japan from a 1960s perspective, so horribly dull and boring looking at it from 2023. At any rate, not what I'm interested in when reading a bond novel.

Consider the stakes: Thunderball was 2 nuclear warheads in the hands of SPECTRE threatening to blow up the West. This book is about getting Bond back into shape after losing Tracy by putting him on a diplomatic mission to trade secrets with the Japanese.

If BOnd fails, then the British don't get the Japanese intelligence. SHocking. Fleming uses this bureaucratic set up and the character of Tanaka to deliver his lecture on Japanese culture and history. Boring, not the subject of course, but the way Fleming delivers the knowledge as a red herring in a Bond novel and totally different from the very interesting bits of knowledge about other countries and cultures he has managed to expertly sprinkle in in the previous novels. Jamaica, United States, France etc.

THen by complete coincidence, this diplomatic mission leads Bond to Blofeld who this time doesn't want to kill millions for money but is content having people kill themselves by the dozens for free. The final confrontation between Bond and BLofeld is as anticlimactic as the premise of Blofelds undertaking. A massive disappointment considering the constant build-up of THunderball and Secret Service which is totally interrupted and sapped by the bureaucratic Japan lecture.

To add insult to injury, Fleming includes about a 10 minute (or 5 page?) detailed list of all the poisonous botany Blofeld has imported to Japan.

THen Bonds ends up losing his memory and fathering a child with the Japanese village girl, unbelievable. Now I know where No TIme to Die got its inspiration from.

Performance is good, makes everything a little bit more interesting.

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  • StephenH
  • 2022-12-20

A rare case where the movie is better

This is the first time to struggle through a Fleming novel - I even considered returning it. There were two almost immediate red flags. First, Fleming describes geishas - or at least Bond treats them - as prostitutes. This is a recurring undercurrent; it's as if Fleming got some travel books and decided to include all the lurid or, in his mind, bizarre aspects of Japanese life. Rather than list all the examples, I'll use Fleming's own words. When Bond's Japanese girlfriend(?) explains why she hated film work in Hollywood, she says she was treated like an animal and her body was available to everyone. Ironically, this is much the way Fleming/Bond generally views the Japanese. Second, the narrator really drops the ball on the "Tiger" Tanaka voice: the character sounds like Toad from Wind and the Willows or an English-speaking Jabba the Hut. Since half the dialogue for much of the book is Tanaka, this is a hard listen. It doesn't help that Jarvis over emphasizes the added vowel sounds (Japanese doesn't have final consonants and Japanese speakers often add a vowel to foreign words).

The novel is also boring. Yes, the film includes the Bond becoming "Japanese" scenes but there is not a big emphasis. In the novel, this dominates half the book. That a man will become "Japanese" when he can't speak the language, has his eyebrows shaved into an angle, and can barely use chopsticks is laughable. Much of what Bond says to Tanaka would be offensive - Tanaka certainly wouldn't consider it "Japanese-style" - so spending half the book with Bond becoming "Japanese" is a tough slog.

Oddly, this Bond is barely recognizable. I understand his initial struggle to get over the death of his wife; it's the later demeanor. Bond is a petulant child: why do I have to do this? That's impossible, how can I do it? [etc.]. This supposedly "Japanese" Bond whines constantly about Japanese food, sitting on the floor, Japanese toilets, Japanese customs, and Japanese culture. If he were American, he'd be asking directions to McDonald's. This isnt the attitude of a successful diplomat or spy, and when we've previously seen Bond, he's determined and finds a way to win.

Typically, I find it unfair to expect past authors to observe 21st century standards, but You Only Live Twice simply isn't good. Watch the movie - ignore "Little Nellie" - and you'll have a more enjoyable experience.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dick Forney
  • 2022-01-31

So Good...

So much better than the film, and I love the film. I'm reading all of the Fleming Bond books in order, and I've loved them all. This one is one of the best so it is almost frustrating that I'm about to complete the series. As good as it is alone, read previous two first, as this novel makes up the final book in the "Blofeld trilogy." Martin Jarvis does a spectacular job narrating! Enjoy!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Arthur Robles jr
  • 2021-12-27

Very exciting and interesting.

I enjoyed this book very much so exciting and fun the banter between Bond and Tiger.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2021-08-06

Bond, Blofeld, and Bushido

"You Only Live Twice" is another excellent 007 novel. It opens with a depressed James Bond, mourning the loss of his wife at the end of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." He is given one last chance to prove his worth to M, which leads to him taking a job from the head of the Japanese Secret Service, a job to eliminate a mysterious Swiss scientist. This scientist has created a horrific theme park of death, filled with poisons, geysers and fumaroles, and piranhas. The story is one of revenge, set in a culture e timely different from the one Bond comes from. Ian Fleming has done an excellent job of describing Japanese culture, including that of the Amo people, which itself is distinct from the rest of the country. Martin Jarvis does a good job with the narration, and the voice he lends to Tiger Tanaka is particularly entertaining.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karl Pfefferle
  • 2021-01-16

Good Character Acting

I felt Martin Jarvis did a spectacular job with the Japanese characters in particular. His Tanaka and Henderson were wonderful. His Bond left me wondering a bit, and I could never quite draw the character in my mind. It was a good performance, though a difficult one.