Wow, this book is epic in both size and the story it’s telling.
The Author , Rusty Young starts out telling us how he worked for the US government as a manager for Anti kidnapping in counter terrorism; this led to Rusty meeting the main protagonist, Pedro Juan Gutierrez Gonzales who tells the story of his childhood and the small Village he lived and grew up in while the FARC Guerrillas and the Colombian army battled for control.
The book itself is a work of fiction based on the events he experienced and it’s a massive book broken down into 164 chapters I guess to help pace the book. Which is done well, you get that , “just one more chapter” feel.
We are told how a young Pedro learns to gain his fathers trust and begins to help with things in the close knit community and starts to learn exactly what it going on, the first few chapters bring us to his 15th birthday.
Witnessing his fathers cruel, vicious execution at the hands of the Guerrillas , His family is then thrown off their own Finca (farm) , and Pedro swears revenge.
Joined by his best friend Palillo, they sign up to the AUC , Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, a group of paramilitaries fighting against the Guerrillas. Pedro aims to find and kill all the Guerrillas involved in his fathers death.
Brutality’s of camp life , horrific punishments, one execution of a group of deserters is particularly harrowing and haunting and both heart breaking and awful.
Venezuelan Witch doctors, drugs labs, cocaine supermarkets, corruption , protection, drug trafficking and the whole cartel works are all prevalent in this book
The Main characters grow on you and it’s hard not to become emotionally involved with Pedro and Palillo as you read, it’s such a big book you become invested in them both, and many lesser characters like Nono and Camilla, even Alfa 1 ,the brutish Commander and leader of the AUC.
It’s fascinating to read Pedro’s Character arc as he goes from Innocent boy to a hard , uncompromising superior commander of the AUC.
A coming of age story , the trials and tribulations of being a teenager In a horrendous setting , I wander how much is real and how and much is fiction.
It’s very well written , with great attention to detail and you really feel your in Colombia going through the hell with Pedro. Living through the hell and brutal atrocities of a war that appears to have no end.
there is a bit of an element as the book reaches the later stages where it can a little repetitive and for me it could have been written maybe 150 pages lighter, though this by no means makes it slow or boring and it doesn’t take away from this being a great book.
Brilliant, heart wrenching , powerful, extraordinary, a tale of revenge and at times , human attrition , this is a triumph for the author and brings to the fore a subject I knew very little about and now want to find out more.
If you have an interest in this subject this is a Must Read.
My copy was supplied by Net Galley for an honest and impartial review