So way back when I was in a book club. Granted I am now a part of 2 book clubs but neither are the book club I am going to be talking about. I get it. I have a book club problem. Anyways! Way back when in the second book club I had joined, I had read the book Savages by Don Winslow. You may be more familiar with the movie than the book. The movie starred Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, and Aaron Johnson. When I first saw the movie trailer I thought it looked silly. However, when I read the book I ended up really enjoying it. So I jumped at the chance to read Kings of Cool, which is the prequel.
Kings of Cool takes place before all of the events of Savages. It gives you insight into how Ben and Chon started their marijuana buisness, how Dennis became a corrupt DEA agent, and how Elena became the ruthless leader. It also goes all the way back to the 60s, 70s, and 80s to show you what Ben, Chon, and O’s parents were like before having their children. If you are offended by foul language, drugs, violence and sex you should probably not read this book.
I really like Winslow’s style of writing. He has a really nice flow to his writing. It is really different than most other writing you read. It didn’t follow the standard format you typically see books written in. There would be chapters that were a couple pages long and then there would be chapters that were only a couple words long. I also enjoyed getting more time with the three main characters. I really liked the relationships between Ben, Chon, and O. It was nice to get some insight into how their friendships started and see how much they would do for each other.In Savages you see just how far the two boys would go for O, but in Kings of Cool you see how far Ben and Chon would go to protect each other. It was nice to see the focus on their friendship in this book more than their relationship with O.
One bad part about reading a prequel that was written after the original was that you know a lot of stuff already. So a lot of the information was repeated at the beginning of Kings of Cool the only problem was that it was like direct quotes from Savages. At times I felt like I was re-reading Savages. As the book went on though that issue drifted away luckily making the book get a little better.
Another thing I didn’t really like was the scenes with the parents. I wanted to like their storyline. I really tried to like it but it was so hard. Winslow made so many references to what happened in each of those decades that I didn’t understand. I was born in the early 90s, I don’t know every single detail of what happened in the 60s-80s. I know the big stuff. I know the presidents and the wars and Woodstock but there were so many references to things that just flew right over my head. At times it almost felt like Winslow was trying to show off how clever he could be about the social movements and events that occurred during those decades. The parents’ storyline would get lost a lots of times in this part and I would end the section (he split it into 3 sections the 60s, 70s, and 80s) confused as to what had even happened. I felt like the parents’ storyline would have been better if he hadn’t tried so hard to be clever. But maybe it is just me. Maybe other people understood all of the references and it made perfect sense to them.
Overall the prequel was not as good as the original. Shocking I know. It is a rare occasion when it is. But Winslow managed to hold true to the style of Savages when he wrote Kings of Cool and for that I am grateful because I might not have finished it if he did.