Savages (Savages #2) Review

Savages (Savages #2) is a 2010 crime thriller novel written by Don Winslow and published by Simon & Schuster.  Ben, Chon, and O are best friends who’ve made a fortune producing premium grade marijuana in Southern California.  When the Mexican Baja Cartel demands a cut by kidnapping O, Ben and Chon begin a series of negotiations and life risking actions to free her.


Positives:

  • Great characters
  • Informative writing
  • Brilliant dialogue
  • Great pacing
  • Highly suspenseful

Negatives:

  • n/a

Plot:  The concept of the story is pretty damn simple.  Ben has developed a high grade of marijuana who Chon sells to the Southern California upper class.  However, things go from awesome to hell when the Mexican drug cartel move in and want Ben and Chon to come work for them.  Despite declining their offer, the cartel don’t take no for an answer and kidnap Ben and Chon’s girlfriend Ophelia “O”.  Now Ben and Chon must risk everything to rescue O.  Ben and Chon utilize guerilla-like tactics to raise enough money to save O from the cartels.  The story is a good read, filled with great insight into the history of the drug trade and escalating Cartel expansion.  These sections do slow the story but I found them to be an educational backdrop to the setting of the story.  After Ophelia’s kidnapping, the story picks up really fast, with action and plot twists that keep it engaging. The ending is pretty damn tragic but it’s good enough to satisfy the page turning itch. (5 out of 5)

Characters: Really liked the characters and how well they stood out, and the backstory revealed about them. Although the main focus is from O’s point of view, she is shadowed by her boyfriends an environmentalist and philanthropist Ben and his best friend ex-special forces killing machine Chon.  Ben is the more thoughtful of the group often deciding to deal with conflict with diplomacy while as Chon deals with it with brute force. There’s definitely the comparison triangle where Ophelia, Ben, and Chon are different in personality but feel authentic as a unit.  Yeah, yeah, for us civilized folk, Ben and Chon openly share O as their girlfriend would be looked down but to me, if that’s what you like and it works go for it.  Ben is in love with life itself and Chon broods seeing everyone as potential enemies.  What makes them awesome is that they’re more than friends.  They’re business partners. The cartel are obviously the boogie man of the story and yes, they are quite brutal.  (5 out of 5)

Writing:  I was really impressed with Winslow’s writing style, especially with how brilliantly he wrote the dialogue, which feels like poetry.  It felt edgy, but the writing has a lot of depth to it. Winslow has definitely done his research about the escalation of the drug war and his writing does reflect it, adding layers to the storytelling.  His presentation of the characters and their dynamic is superb.  This book is definitely dark and violent, I mean people are decapitate with freakin chainsaws.  But despite how tragic the story is, Winslow does slide some dark humor in it.  Books like this have a problem of becoming stale or boring but Winslow keeps the pace good especially when it comes to Ben and Chon’s plans to rescue O. (5 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Savages (Savages #2) is a good fast paced crime thriller that’s a great page turner.  Didn’t really have much of a problem with the book.  I liked the characters, liked the story, liked the well researched information, and liked the writing from a this talented author.  Savages (Savages #2) gets 5 out of 5.

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