This is my first encounter with Don Winslow and if his other novels are anything like Savages, I plan to devour them all. Winslow's writing style is definitely one that people are going to either love or hate. It is a style that has been attempted by many but rarely pulled off, often becoming annoying and distracting. Winslow manages to make it feel organic and I doubt this story would be so great if it had been written in a more standard format.
Ben and Chon are antiheroes to the core. Ben is a complacent super-cannabis creating genius with significant philanthropic urges that take him all over the world, while Chon is an unapologetic ex-SEAL with chronic "PTLOSD: Post-Traumatic Lack Of Stress Disorder" and an unexpected love for language. Chon is the Yang to Ben's Ying, if you will. They balance each other very nicely and in a believable fashion. I was never left wondering "Why are these guys so close?" This balance also explains how O can love them both simultaneously and so thoroughly.
I can understand how some readers feel like the jargon gets a little out-of-hand but I feel like it helps more than harms. No, people in suburbia don't consistently speak this way, but people in other places and situations do. I'm guessing Don Winslow has a better grasp on the culture he writes about than I do.
There are a lot of literary moments in this novel that made me stop and reflect. Moments that are often easy to gloss over and pretend aren't happening. Moments that I may be tempted to sweep under the rug. I liked that. I liked the fact that I was forced to think instead of simply roll through. It wasn't anything that forced me to get all philosophical, just briefly reflect and, inevitably, become more invested in the story.
"What ever happened to morality?" Ben sighed.
"Same thing that happened to CDs."
Replaced by a newer, faster, easier technology."
I cannot say I was able to relate to many of the aspects of this story (thankfully). That didn't matter. I found myself rooting for Ben, Chon, and O. How could I not? Their pasts heavily influenced who they are, just like everyone else. They do the best they can with the cards they were dealt. I wanted to like them despite our differences in opinion and I wanted good things for them. I was even pleased with the ending. It was believable, realistic, and stuck to who the characters truly are. They were never compromised for the reader's sake. They are who they are and that's why I loved them.