9 November 2012

Review: Savages by Don Winslow

There is no question that Winslow is a confident writer at the top of his game. At best this manifests in engaging characters, a strong narrative voice, smart explanations of complicated ideas, strong themes and gripping pacing. At worst this results an offhandedness that could alienate readers — fourth wall asides,loose plotting, sudden shifts in tempo. On the whole these are blemishes for a book that is definitely deserving of the high praise it has received. 

Winslow is a smart, edgy writer whose playfulness with language and ear for dialogue made me relish reading this book. That said, the final quarter of this novel felt rushed, and while I accepted the somewhat wild ending, I would have liked a little more time to come to terms with it. At some moments, particularly a key gunfight,I felt that critical events were being sketched out - a shame given the time invested in developing the motivations and ambitions of Savages central characters. One other minor gripe, and it's very minor, were the shifts into screen writing format. Winslow's style is very light on at the best of times soI was unsure of his decision to write some sections in screenplay format.Again, minor issues.

Interestingly, Winslow co-wrote the screenplay for the Oliver Stone adaptation of the novel. I'm quite interested in seeing the choices that have been made as without the characters inner monologues, it would be a hard book to do justice as a film.

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