This may become one of my new favorite authors. Don Winslow’s new book Savages was difficult to put down! I was first drawn to the book when I saw an ad for the movie directed by Oliver Stone. The movie looked good, so I looked it up and learned that it used to be a book. After reading the first chapter on my Kindle, I was intrigued by the lead female character being named after Hamlet’s Ophelia, then got so hooked I did nothing but read this book until it was finished.
The style of writing isn’t like anything I’ve read before. There are almost 300 chapters, but they are very short, usually a couple of pages max, and sometimes just one sentence. Not only are the chapters short, but the sentences are written in a staccato style that is quick and to the point. I feel like making a comparison to Hemingway would be giving Winslow too much credit, but it helps explain what I mean by the brevity of the author.
My favorite part of Winslow’s writing was his frequent explanations of word etymology. Example: He “pointed toward Fun Dog. Etymology: San Diego Sun Diego Sun Dog Fun Dog.”
My other favorite aspect was the frequent pop culture references. Among the many included Field of Dreams, Hunter S. Thompson, Go Ask Alice, Heart of Darkness (although I think it might have been specifically Apocolypse Now,) Titanic, Shakespeare, and Tim O’Brien just to name a few. The reason I like books like this is because like any pop culture recognition, it makes the reader feel “in the know” and if you don’t get it, it doesn’t matter, the story is still good.
The storyline itself follows two marijuana growers in California who end up being involved by force with the Baja Cartel. I’m not going to give away too many details beyond that, but it was an exciting read from beginning to end. It reminded me of a combination of Requiem for a Dream (one of the best books I’ve ever read) combined with a little bit of Bret Easton Ellis‘s southern-California cool. The story is told from multiple perspectives, so the reader gets insight into the motivations and thoughts of everyone involved.
The Kindle version also included a few chapters from the prequel, The Kings of Cool which was just released this month. Needless to say, I will be reading that asap.
Just like the book, I’m going to keep this review short, sweet and to the point. If the premise sounds remotely interesting to you, I guarantee you will not be disappointed by this novel, especially the ending.