Mook Review: Savages

Savages – Novel by Don Winslow

Savages, Don Winslow, Baja Cartel, Ben and Chon, Mookology, Mook Review


I picked up Savages after it was recommended to me by a friend in light of the upcoming movie.  I’d never read any of Don Winslow’s work but, after putting down Savages, I was truly able to appreciate the brilliance and intelligence of his writing.  Winslow does his research and was able to create a story that felt authentic from the ground up and it is clear he has a very deep understanding of the relationship between Mexican drug cartels and the U.S. marijuana market.

O, Chon, and Ben’s story is, in the end, a tragedy.  Winslow references Shakespeare in a number of ways through this story.  Obviously, O named for Hamlet’s “Ophelia” was an initial indicator that things make take a Shakespearean turn.  Winslow also incorporated staged scenes into the novel, usually at times of importance, which I found to be a really awesome writing tool particularly for Savages.  The last scene of the story is ultimately tragic.  O, Chon, and Ben cannot live without each other because their love is so strong they would rather die together than live apart.  Throughout the story, their three partner relationship is questioned by others over and over but at  the ending, you cant deny the strength of this trio.

I can’t say there was  much I didn’t like about this book.  It wasn’t a literary masterpiece, that is for sure, but it was interesting, complex, full of action, and remarkably well written.  Of course there were some far-fetched moments but hey, its fiction.  In Fictionland, all is possible.  Savages was really enjoyable for me and I look forward to reading Winslow’s  prequel to the story, The Kings of Cool.

“Savages”  Directed by Oliver Stone

Savages Movie, Don Winslow, Oliver Stone, Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta


A film like “Savages” truly makes me question the purpose of book adaptations.  I would like to start by saying “Savages” is NOT a bad movie.  In fact, I found “Savages” to be a pretty decent action/suspense drug drama with a nice, all-star cast (besides Blake Lively.. she did nothing for this film.)  There were some changes made, which were fine.  I kind  of liked how they heightened Dennis’ role, which created more tension between the drug cartels and the DEA, and amplified Lado’s role between Baja and El Azul.

Additionally, the relationship between O and Elena was much more prevalent in the movie and helped reveal Elena’s ultimate weakness; her daughter.  In general, I liked the way each character’s role played out in the movie.

But (and of course there is a but) the ending was nothing short of senseless.  It is one thing to change the ending of a book adaptation, but it is another to make the choice to use BOTH endings.  The movie should have ended with O, Ben, and Chon lying together and awaiting death.  It was tragic and purposeful and, when it comes down to it, this is a film about drugs.  Good guy/bad guy doesn’t matter, we don’t need to see our 3 protagonists live happily ever after.  However, the choice to have O state “that is the way I imagine it” and then rewind the entire final scene, only to play out something entirely different, made absolutely no sense.  Elena gets locked up, Lado gets lucky, Dennis is awarded for his work at the DEA, and after Ben and Chon spend some time in the slammer, our trio are off the grid.  They live happily ever after in paradise.

This decision honestly ruined the entire movie for me and I was really disappointed.  It was hokey and weird, especially since the actual ending was so much better than what they created for the movie (in my opinion.)

Mook Rating  ★★


13 thoughts on “Mook Review: Savages

  1. another great review! I had no idea Savages was a book adaption. They actually gave away the prequel on opening weekend which I was going to read first… and then I saw your review and thought maybe I’d read the first book. What do you think?

    • Isn’t it great when you find out a movie was a book first?! :) I can’t speak for The Kings of Cool because I haven’t read it yet.. but since the prequel was written AFTER Savages I’m sure it won’t make much of a difference. I would suggest reading Savages before the film, just because I enjoyed it more. Enjoy it!

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