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The Kings of Cool (Savages #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  4,143 Ratings  ·  417 Reviews
In Savages, Don Winslow introduced Ben and Chon, twenty-something best friends who risk everything to save the girl they both love, O. Among the most celebrated thrillers in recent memory—and now a major motion picture directed by Academy Award–winning filmmaker Oliver Stone—Savages was picked as a best book of the year by Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly, Janet Maslin ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
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I dislike acronyms. They irritate me. We are inundated with them at work, and plagued with them in the news and on social media. This novel is rife with them. Not sure what writing style is being used here, but I couldn't cozy up to it.

On the upside, the characters were drawn quite well. I liked Chon and O, and especially gentle Ben, the one genuinely concerned with karma. A good point is made to not fall into the 'bad habit of having a habit.' Paranoia is noted as a perfectly good survival tec
Mar 06, 2013 Kemper rated it really liked it
Hey, George Lucas! Now THIS is how you do a prequel!

Don Winslow’s Savages instantly became one of my favorite crime novels, and I was a little worried about him doing another one that takes place before it. Frankly, it seemed like a rush job done to capitalize on the movie version of Savages which comes out tomorrow.

I should have had more faith in Winslow. He has expanded the backgrounds of the characters from Savages and uses their stories to give us an idea of the rise of the drug trade in so
James Thane
Jul 15, 2013 James Thane rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books of the last several years was Savages, by the incomparable Don Winslow. It was hip, cool, very funny and enormously engrossing. The trio at the heart of the book included three early-twenty-something Southern Californians: Ben and Chon, two life-long friends-turned-drug producers who grew the best weed available, and O, the enormously beautiful and appealing woman who loved both of them. The book was not only a great read, it was a compelling meditation on the nature of ...more
May 06, 2014 Brandon rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brandon by: Kemper
Shelves: fiction, 2012
Honestly, after reading this, I can't believe this book was anywhere near as good as it was. In fact, it was down right awesome.

Savages is a tremendous novel. It was my first exposure to Winslow and I immediately fell for his razor sharp prose. It's just so.. cool. Is that word OK to use or does it make me look uninspired and boring? I don't care. Whatever. That being said, I didn't know what to expect with this prequel. Could this be something Winslow wrote to capitalize on the motion picture a
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We once again visit the bad-ass trio Ben, Chon and O.

Contained within these pages you'll find sun, surfers, hippies and W.D, standing for war on drugs, wars with drugs and wars and drugs.
Surfers and hippies take you back to the origins of Chon and his family, back to when he wasn't given this oriental sounding name that has nothing to do with his ethnicity but just a funny moment in his life.
There are plenty of humorous moments delivered with sharp dialog and blistering social commentary.
The fa
Lance Charnes
Jul 24, 2016 Lance Charnes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers sorry that Savages wasn't another hundred pages longer
Shelves: fiction-crime
Show of hands: how many of you thought we really, really needed a prequel to Savages ? Yeah, me neither. Don Winslow obviously did, and here it is, carrying with it both the good and the bad from the original along with its own virtues and vices.

This is actually two stories mashed together. One is a slice of Ben's, Chon's and O's earlier careers, before they were the kings of the Laguna Beach artisanal pot world. The other is an origins story -- not for our trio of future savages (except in a v
Jul 22, 2014 RandomAnthony rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-noir
I'm reviewing Winslow's Savages and the prequel, Kings of Cool, as one entity since I read the novels consecutively and separate reviews seem excessive. Also, both earn three stars, maybe three and a half, as I'd probably read more Winslow but I'm not pushing elderly women and jogger-stroller moms aside in a barefoot sprint toward the local library to snag more of his books.

Both novels read quick, noir, and pulp-y, mostly in a good way. Each contains about twelve thousand chapters but some cont
Jeff Tucker
Jul 27, 2012 Jeff Tucker rated it it was amazing
Wow! I read this book in two days. I just could not put it down. It’s definitely my idea of a page turner. In the crime/mystery/thriller genre this is one of my favorites. Be forewarned there’s lots of sex, drugs and violence. I haven’t read Savages yet but I’ll go buy it this afternoon. The author doesn’t seem to want to use any words that aren’t necessary. Many passages are in single words or short phrases. Chapters can start or end in the middle of a thought or even in the middle of a ...more
Tim Niland
Jul 07, 2012 Tim Niland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-reads
Don Winslow is fast becoming one of my favorite storytellers, and Savages, the book this novel was based on, was one of my favorite novels of 2010. While the conclusion of that book limited the options for a sequel, it did offer many unanswered questions about what came before, questions that Winslow spins into another excellent story with this book. This story has a split focus, one half of it following the developing marijuana empire of Ben and Chon and their lady-friend O as the develop it in ...more
Sep 30, 2012 yexxo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literatur, krimi
Bisher hat mich das Äußere eines Buches nur selten verleitet, darüber etwas zu schreiben. Aber in diesem Fall ist die Aufmachung so ungewöhnlich, dass ich einfach einige Worte dazu verlieren muss. Eckig und völlig schwarz kommt das Buch daher, inclusive aller Seitenschnitte; Titel, Autor usw. sind hingegen in weißen, schnörkellosen Buchstaben dargestellt. Wer die Hardcoverausgabe von 'Unendlicher Spaß' von David Foster Wallace kennt, hat hier nun die Negativform vor sich liegen.
Doch ein Buch nur
Jul 26, 2012 Eddie rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Unfortunately, everything new I read that comes from Winslow, I compare them to The Power Of Dog and the Dawn Patrol and also the second book in that series, The Gentlemen's Hour. Those three books are the actual kings of cool to me and are damn near flawless—especially Power of the Dog. This prequel to Savages was merely ok to me. I enjoyed Savages far more than I did this one and I couldn't really tell you why. What I did love about this book though, was his integration of two protago
Robin Webster
Sep 28, 2013 Robin Webster rated it it was amazing
I had read ‘The Power of the Dog’ by Don Winslow a couple of years ago. I loved it but hadn’t read another of his books until now. Ten pages into ‘The Kings of Cool’, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had left it so long to return to this author. This book is a recently released prequel to ‘Savages’. The backdrop to the book is the Californian drug scene from the nineteen-sixties to two-thousand-and-five, and follows our three main characters, Chon and Ben, (partners in the marijuana business) ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Jeremiah rated it it was ok
Let me preface this review by stating that I haven't read or seen the film The Savages or anything else by Don Wilson. That being said this prequel starring a trio of drug dealing characters was vaguely interesting. The story jumped around a bit through time, which was okay, but what really drove me batty
was its style; chopped
and poetry like

with some


thrown in.

It actually detracted from the book and I felt there was no good reason for it. M
Robert Intriago
Jul 03, 2012 Robert Intriago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-noir, 2012
The trouble with action/mysteries prequels is that you know who is going to survive, you just do not know how. As a general rule most sequels/prequels are not as good as the original. This one is not the exception. It lacks the comedy and sex action of the first book: "Savages" Do not get me wrong it is a very good book, just not in same category. If you like Winslow, you will like this book. I also liked the reader in the original better.
Melissa Klug
Jun 28, 2012 Melissa Klug rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
SAVAGES was one of my favorite books of the last 10 years. This is a prequel, and it is fantastic. It is a crime novel told like a lyric poem in many parts. Don Winslow is amazing.
Yvonne (It's All About Books)
Rating 4

“Smart people sometimes get stupid, but stupid people never get smart. Never. Ever. 'You can come down the evolutionary ladder,' Chon has observed to Ben and O; 'you can't climb up.”

(view spoiler)
Sam Quixote
Oct 23, 2012 Sam Quixote rated it liked it
Returning to his biggest success in years, “Savages”, Don Winslow makes the trip backwards from that book to tell the story of how Ben, Chon and O got together in the first place, how they began their business, and a history of the Southern California (SoCal) drug trade starting in the 60s and which inexplicably involves all of their parents.

While I’m excited whenever Winslow puts out a new novel, I was surprised to see he had written a prequel to “Savages” rather than a sequel. What needed to
Jul 03, 2012 Ethan rated it it was amazing
A couple years ago, Don Winslow made waves with his fast and edgy novel, "Savages", in which young drug "entrepreneurs", Ben and Chon, embarked in a war against a Mexican drug group who kidnapped their shared girlfriend, O. It was, arguably, one of the best thrillers of that year and even spawned a film adaptation by director Oliver Stone. Now, Winslow returns to this version of California in a prequel, "The Kings of Cool".

The novel centers on two main stories, one taking place around 2005 and t
Jun 25, 2013 Carolin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ein bisschen Scarface, ein bisschen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - die ganz Großen.

Don Winslow wandert während der 349 Seiten, die man als Leser im Drogenmilieu der sonnigen Küste Südkaliforniens verbringt, auf einem schmalen Grad entlang und schwankt dabei mächtig, sodass ein Mix aus white trash-Weisheit und verblendeter Drogenextase herauskommt.

"Nein, findet Chon, das Problem mit Politikern ist nicht, dass sie auf Droge sind, sondern dass sie's nicht sind.
Dabei gibt es jetzt so gute Mittel
The Kings of Cool is Don Winslow's prequel to earth-moving novel, Savages. The prequel aims to give the back story of Savages' protagonists, including the parents of Ben, Chon, and Ophelia; the lineage of the Baja Cartel; and the role of local and federal government in the "War on Drugs." Ben and Chon, a.k.a. B&C, are two fledging drug dealers in Laguna Beach, California. As we know from Savages, Chon brought back some killer weed from his tour in Afghanistan and Ben cross-bred it to make a ...more
Craig Pittman
Jun 02, 2013 Craig Pittman rated it really liked it
"Savages" was a scorching thriller with smart characters, diamond-sharp dialogue and cinematic scene construction, leading up to a shattering conclusion. Now the author, Don Winslow, shows us how all the characters in that book got to be where they were via this book, "The Kings of Cool."

It's just as smart and sharp as "Savages" was, but with a better sense of history, as Winslow jumps backwards in time not just to 2005, when his main players of Chon, Ben and O were first getting started, but a
Oct 12, 2012 John rated it really liked it
This is the Prequel to Savages, a blockbuster blood and guts epic from Oliver Stone, starring Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights .. hopefully "Rig" will get out of his rut with this movie after the horrendous bombs, John Carter and Battleship).
Kings of Cool looks at Life Behind the Orange Curtain - Orange County, California - specifically the glitzy corridor between San Diego and Seal Beach. The bullseye is Laguna Beach. It's kind of like a less funny California style Blues Brot
Jul 07, 2014 Brandon rated it it was amazing

With a lot of U's in there. Thats what this prequel to the amazing Savages got me thinking.

Now I know what a sequel is supposed to feel like. In my opinion, "Savages" doesn't really need a lot of answers as to why things happened the way they did or why Ben and Chon ended up being what they are. I didn't feel any thirst for answers, but I knew I needed more of these three characters and Dennis.

And now that I finished "The Kings of Cool" I realise there was just so many I had to know. Far
Jul 07, 2012 Andre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked Savages, but I loved The Kings of Cool. The prequel corrected the issues I had with the first book, which were that Ben and Chon and Ophelia were unlikeable and I couldn’t find a way to care about them. In The Kings of Cool, they are five years younger and, therefore, not yet fully formed into the people I didn’t like in Savages. Those five years made a huge difference.

The Kings of Cool is the trio’s true origin story. As is the case with most origin stories, the protagonists’ story isn’
Jul 16, 2012 Ben rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This prequel to "Savages" brings the same energy to the table, along with the unique format. But is it overdone? Too much? In the first (e.g. "Savages") we pick up Ben/Chon/O late in their story arc, so the author gets to explore their backstories a bit more here.

While good, it's not as compelling as his first work. And at times the backstory felt a little bit too contrived -- you'll maybe know what I mean if you read the book. That is, everything felt a little bit too convenient in terms of th
Oct 17, 2013 Jeffrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Savages was a great book. The Kings of Cool, not so much. It seems in many ways a tie in to the movie. Did Winslow decide to tell the backstory of the characters because he had a story to tell or was it the idea of his editor and the movie studio as a way of having synergy with the movie Savages coming out at the same time.

The story basically is about the back story of O, Chon and Ben and their interlinked families. If you wondered how Chon and Ben got involved in the drug trade that is fleshed
Nov 28, 2013 Torben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ich habe das Hörbuch gehört. Ganz einfach klasse, weil Dietmar Wunder klasse liest. Da schält sich Winslows Prosa noch mehr raus. Ein Autor der sein Handwerk beherrscht und ein Sprecher, der einfach die Coolness der Vorlage verstärkt. Schwierig für mich wie beim Lesen von "Tage der Toten": Die vielen Personen, die Zusammenhänge und Verstrickungen. Man muss sich schon konzertrieren, auch um die Sprünge in Winslows Erzählweise mitzubekommen. Das macht den Reiz aus, aber ist auch schwierig, der ...more
Jan 05, 2016 Leesa rated it it was amazing
LOVED. Loved Savages, love this prequel. Winslow's writing is excellent, funny, sexy, scary and he takes me into this world I never actually wanna go into, but I go with him...for a little bit. I trust him w/it. And I lovelove the super-short clippy chapters...they really lend themselves to his quickish storytelling and he's just pretty all-around great. Dig him a lot, always wanna read what he puts out. Winslow's straight money.
May 12, 2014 buchtrunken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That was the first things that comes up to my mind after I finished reading this "writing".

While reading "Kings of Cool" you've got the feeling of watching a movie. Mental cinema at its best.
The inner movies you watch are as strange as cult movies like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".
This book is like a trip. You don't know where it will take you but you can't stop reading it.

Megan Treseder
May 30, 2014 Megan Treseder rated it really liked it
Crazy fun to read! This is a hyper fast story with witty dialogue and cultural references every other sentence. I especially loved the lines from The Godfather. If you want more insight into the drug world, you'll get both perspectives: those who are for drugs and those who are against them. It was fascinating. Almost enough so that it makes me want to watch the movie Savages (Kings of Cool is the prequel), even if it does have Blake Lively.
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Don Winslow was born in New York City but raised in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. At various times an actor, director, movie theater manager, safari guide and private investigator, Don has done many things on his way to being a novelist.

His first novel, A Cool Breeze On The Underground, was nominated for an Edgar, and a later book, California Fire and Life, received the Shamus Award. The Death An
More about Don Winslow...

Other Books in the Series

Savages (2 books)
  • Savages (Savages #2)

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“What happened? Stan repeats.
To us?
To the country?
What happened when childhood ends in Dealey Plaza, in Memphis, in the kitchen of the Ambassador, your belief your hope your trust lying in a pool of blood again? Fifty-five thousand of your brothers dead in Vietnam, a million Vietnamese, photos of naked napalmed children running down a dirt road, Kent State, Soviet tanks roll into Prague so you turn on drop out you know you can't reinvent the country but maybe you reimagine yourself you believe you really believe that you can that you can create a world of your own and then you lower that expectation to just a piece of ground to make a stand on but then you learn that piece of ground costs money that you don't have.
What happened?
Altamont, Charlie Manson, Sharon Tate, Son of Sam, Mark Chapman we saw a dream turn into a nightmare we saw love and peace turn into endless war and violence our idealism into realism our realism into cynicism our cynicism into apathy our apathy into selfishness our selfishness into greed and then greed was good and we
Had babies, Ben, we had you and we had hopes but we also had fears we created nests that became bunkers we made our houses baby-safe and we bought car seats and organic apple juice and hired multilingual nannies and paid tuition to private schools out of love but also out of fear.
What happened?
You start by trying to create a new world and then you find yourself just wanting to add a bottle to your cellar, a few extra feet to the sunroom, you see yourself aging and wonder if you've put enough away for that and suddenly you realize that you're frightened of the years ahead of you what
Watergate Irangate Contragate scandals and corruption all around you and you never think you'll become corrupt but time corrupts you, corrupts as surely as gravity and erosion, wears you down wears you out I think, son, that the country was like that, just tired, just worn out by assassinations, wars, scandals, by
Ronald Reagan, Bush the First selling cocaine to fund terrorists, a war to protect cheap gas, Bill Clinton and realpolitik and jism on dresses while insane fanatics plotted and Bush the Second and his handlers, a frat boy run by evil old men and then you turn on the TV one morning and those towers are coming down and the war has come home what
Afghanistan and Iraq the sheer madness the killing the bombing the missiles the death you are back in Vietnam again and I could blame it all on that but at the end of the day at the end of the day
we are responsible for ourselves.
We got tired, we got old we gave up our dreams we taught ourselves to scorn ourselves to despise our youthful idealism we sold ourselves cheap we aren't
Who we wanted to be.”
“Smart people sometimes get stupid, but stupid people never get smart. Never. Ever. 'You can come down the evolutionary ladder,' Chon has observed to Ben and O; 'you can't climb up.” 9 likes
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