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The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 in The New York Times, and Sarah Weinman in the Los Angeles Times.

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The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages

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Overview

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 in The New York Times, and Sarah Weinman in the Los Angeles Times.

Now, in this high-octane prequel, Winslow reaches back in time to tell the story of how Ben, Chon, and O became the people they are. Spanning from 1960s Southern California to the recent past, The Kings of Cool is a breathtakingly original saga of family in all its forms—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and lovers. As the trio at the center of the book does battle with a cabal of drug dealers and crooked cops, they come to learn that their future is inextricably linked with their parents’ history. A series of breakneck twists and turns puts the two generations on a collision course, culminating in a stunning showdown that will force Ben, Chon, and O to choose between their real families and their loyalty to one another.

Fast-paced, provocative, and wickedly funny, The Kings of Cool is a spellbinding love story for our times from a master novelist at the height of his powers. It is filled with Winslow’s trademark talents—complex characters, sharp dialogue, blistering social commentary—that have earned him an obsessive following. The result is a book that will echo in your mind and heart long after you’ve turned the last page.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Mr. Winslow's keen attention to drug culture isn't going to keep readers away from him. He's too damn good to be polarizing. His characters are smart about their self-interest. His dialogue is tight, laconic and razor sharp; if Elmore Leonard or Lee Child discovered surfing, they might sound something like this. And even when he shows off…he gets away with it.
—Janet Maslin
Publishers Weekly
This prequel to Savages, Winslow's 2010 bestseller and now an Oliver Stone-directed big-budget film, features the author's trademark punchy dialogue, and will more than satisfy fans of drug-crime thrillers. Here, Winslow provides the background story of Savage's three main characters: Ben, Chon, and O. Ben and Chon sold marijuana in Laguna Beach, California, before running afoul of a vicious Mexican drug cartel, which abducted O, the dealers' mutual love interest, and ushered the pot-peddling trio into a sordid world of violence and corruption. But that all happened later—this story opens in 2005, with the carefree 20-something friends playing a game in which they predict "each other's sexual preferences," and soon shifts back to 2003 to offer a somewhat unconvincing explanation for how the drug-dealing began: "Actually it was the fact that O had no freaking idea what she was going to do with her life that led Ben and Chon into the marijuana business" as a way to claim a "vocation." Later, the story leapfrogs back even further in time to 1967 to reveal the origins of an earlier drug ring—one with foreboding familial ties to the focal trio. As with many prequels, this will work best for those already familiar with Savages, but on its own, Winslow's penchant for consistent entertainment makes it a great read in its own right. (June)
The New York Times
Don Winslow, whose book The Kings of Cool, just came out, is a rarity among writers of fiction: He doesn't just make it up.
Chip McGrath
The New York Times Book Review
Made funnier by the seditious spin Winslow puts on the romanticized 1960s hippie culture of peace and love and hard drugs . . . [and boasts] the same pulsing rhythms and raw vocals that made “Savages” feel a little dangerous.
Marilyn Stasio
San Diego Union-Tribune
A fast, fun, smart jazz-riff of a book, a prequel to Savages and every bit as good. . . . What sets Winslow apart in the crowded field of crime/mystery/thriller writers is the white-knuckled way he writes and thinks. The dialogue is sharp and funny, full of knowing nods to pop culture, history, and geography. . . . A frenzied ride into the heart of what family and love and loyalty mean.
John Wilkens
The Wall Street Journal
Don Winslow's crackerjack Laguna Beach thriller The Kings of Cool . . . gives background and back story to Mr. Winslow's novel Savages, published in 2010 and just made into a film by Oliver Stone. . . . It's a treat to trace the crossings of this trio's paths with those of other characters over the years. . . . One way or another, they scheme and tough their way through this often gruesome, sometimes witty saga and into the future fates already devised for them.
Tom Nolan
Booklist
“Blistering . . . Winslow serves up nonstop action, tempering the tension with his trademark razor-sharp wit. . . . This cool, clever entry is sure to be a royally popular summer read.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Blistering . . . Winslow serves up nonstop action, tempering the tension with his trademark razor-sharp wit. . . . This cool, clever entry is sure to be a royally popular summer read.”
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
“Blazing . . . Mr. Winslow's keen attention to drug culture isn't going to keep readers away from him. He's too damn good to be polarizing. His characters are smart about their self-interest. His dialogue is tight, laconic, and razor sharp; if Elmore Leonard or Lee Child discovered surfing, they might sound something like this.”
The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
“Made funnier by the seditious spin Winslow puts on the romanticized 1960s hippie culture of peace and love and hard drugs . . . [and boasts] the same pulsing rhythms and raw vocals that made “Savages” feel a little dangerous.”
The New York Times - Chip McGrath
“Don Winslow, whose book The Kings of Cool, just came out, is a rarity among writers of fiction: He doesn't just make it up.”
San Diego Union-Tribune - John Wilkens
“A fast, fun, smart jazz-riff of a book, a prequel to Savages and every bit as good. . . . What sets Winslow apart in the crowded field of crime/mystery/thriller writers is the white-knuckled way he writes and thinks. The dialogue is sharp and funny, full of knowing nods to pop culture, history, and geography. . . . A frenzied ride into the heart of what family and love and loyalty mean.”
The Wall Street Journal - Tom Nolan
“Don Winslow's crackerjack Laguna Beach thriller The Kings of Cool . . . gives background and back story to Mr. Winslow's novel Savages, published in 2010 and just made into a film by Oliver Stone. . . . It's a treat to trace the crossings of this trio's paths with those of other characters over the years. . . . One way or another, they scheme and tough their way through this often gruesome, sometimes witty saga and into the future fates already devised for them.”
The Independent (UK)
“A brilliant, hypnotic novel . . . So much more than a mere backstory . . . With a stylistic swagger and bucketloads of empathy to go with a scintillating, perfectly executed crime-novel plot.”
USA Today
“As a former private investigator, Winslow knows his crime scene. . . . It’s tough not to be hooked.”
From the Publisher
“A fast, fun, smart jazz-riff of a book, a prequel to Savages and every bit as good. . . . What sets Winslow apart in the crowded field of crime/mystery/thriller writers is the white-knuckled way he writes and thinks. The dialogue is sharp and funny, full of knowing nods to pop culture, history and geography. . . . A frenzied ride into the heart of what family and love and loyalty mean.” —John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune

“Mr. Winslow’s keen attention to drug culture isn’t going to keep readers away from him. He’s too damn good to be polarizing. His characters are smart about their self-interest. His dialogue is tight, laconic and razor sharp; if Elmore Leonard or Lee Child discovered surfing, they might sound something like this.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Don Winslow's crackerjack Laguna Beach thriller The Kings of Cool . . . gives background and back story to Mr. Winslow's novel Savages, published in 2010 and just made into a film by Oliver Stone. . . . It's a treat to trace the crossings of this trio's paths with those of other characters over the years. . . . One way or another, they scheme and tough their way through this often gruesome, sometimes witty saga and into the future fates already devised for them.” —Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal

“Blistering . . . Winslow serves up nonstop action, tempering the tension with his trademark razor-sharp wit. . . . This cool, clever entry is sure to be a royally popular summer read.” Booklist (starred review)

“Blazing . . . Studded with the same sharp, lean dialogue and quick-witted calculation [as Savages].” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“This adrenaline-fused collision of generations . . . is another Winslow roller-coaster thriller.” Library Journal (starred review)

Kirkus Reviews
Winslow offers a prequel for his drug-war epic Savages (2010). The year 2005 finds Ben Leonard and his buddy Chon doing what they do best: helping Orange County get high on Ben's custom-bred hydroponic grass. So successful is their business, in fact, that Duane Crowe, of The Association, pays Ben a visit gently suggesting that they either submit a monthly charge to the established network of importers or take their business elsewhere. Chon is not the person to take this challenge lying down, and soon he's struck preemptively at a couple of Association minnows he unwisely leaves alive--a decision that acts like the starting gun at a marathon. Quick as a sentence fragment, Winslow is piling on the violence, the flashbacks to an earlier generation of Southern California surfers and hippies, and the one-word paragraphs, as he makes a strong bid for the James Ellroy Award for Self-Indulgent Prose. Since fans know that Ben and Chon and their childhood friend O-for-Ophelia will still be around to peddle primo product in Savages, The Association's threats don't carry the menace they would outside the wonderful world of prequels, and readers are free to enjoy the proceedings as deliriously overgalvanized, intermittently hilarious ritual. The walk-ons who pop up just long enough to get caught in the crossfire are too interchangeable for tears, and not even Chon's deployment to Afghanistan and his encounter with a bomb are cause for alarm. The only blemish in the blood bath is the pretense, late on in the proceedings, that Chon and O are learning something important about their fathers. Sorry, gang, but you're in the wrong pew.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451665345
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 195,987
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Don Winslow is the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of fifteen novels, including The Kings of Cool, Savages, The Gentlemen’s Hour, The Dawn Patrol, The Winter of Frankie Machine, and The Power of the Dog. He lives in Southern California. To learn more, follow Don on Twitter at twitter.com/donwinslow or visit DonWinslow.com.
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Read an Excerpt


Fuck me.

Laguna Beach, California
2005

2

Is what O is thinking as she sits between Chon and Ben on a bench at Main Beach and picks out potential mates for them.

“That one?” she asks, pointing at a classic BB (Basically Baywatch) strolling down the boardwalk.

Chon shakes his head.

A little dismissively, O thinks. Chon is pretty choosy for a guy who spends most of his time in Afghanistan or Iraq and doesn’t see much in the way of anything outside cammies or a burqa.

Actually, she can see how the burqa thing could be pretty hot if you played it off right.

Did, you know, the harem thing.

Yeah, no.

The burqa ain’t gonna work for O. You don’t want to hide that blonde hair, you don’t want those bright eyes peeking out from behind a niqab.

O was made for sunshine.

California gurl.

Chon, he ain’t small but he’s thin. O thinks he looks even thinner than usual. He’s always been cut, but now it looks like he’s been carved with a scalpel. And she likes the short, almost shaved, hair.

“That one?” she asks, jutting her chin at a tourist-type brunette with really big tits and a retroussÉ nose.

Chon shakes his head.

Ben remains silent, sphinx-like, which is a role reversal, because Ben is usually the more verbal of the two. This isn’t a high bar to jump, as Chon doesn’t talk a lot, except when he goes off on a rant; then it’s like you pulled the plug from a fire hose.

While Ben is the more verbal, O considers now, he’s also the less promiscuous.

Ben is more Consecutive Monogamy while Chon is more Women Are To Be Served Concurrently. Although O knows for a fact that both of them—albeit Chon more than Ben—take full advantage of the Tourist Chicks who watch them play volleyball here at the beach, just a few convenient paces from the Hotel Laguna—encounters she refers to as FRSO.

Fuck—Room Service—Shower—Out.

“That pretty much sums it up,” Chon has admitted.

Although at times he skips the room service.

Never the shower.

Basic rule of survival in the Greater Cross V Crescent Sandbox Tournament:

If there’s a shower, take it.

He can’t shake off the habit at home.

Anyway, Chon admits to doing matinees at the Hotel Laguna, the Ritz, the St. Regis, and the Montage with not only tourist women but also Orange County Trophy Wives and divorcÉes—the difference between the two being strictly temporary.

That’s the thing about Chon—he’s totally honest. No pretensions, no evasions, no apologies. O can’t decide if that’s because he’s so ethical or because he just doesn’t give a fuck.

Now he turns to her and says, “You have one strike left. Choose carefully.”

It’s a game they play—ODB—Offline Dating Baseball. Predicting each other’s sexual preferences and hitting for a single, a double, a triple, or a Home Run. It’s a really good game when you’re high, which they are now, on some of Ben and Chon’s supremo weed.

(Which is not weed at all, but a top-of-the-line hydro blend they call Saturday In The Park because if you take a hit of this stuff any day is Saturday and any place is the park.)

O is usually the Sammy Sosa of ODB, but now, with runners on first and third, she’s striking out.

“Well?” Chon asks her.

“I’m waiting for a good pitch,” she says, scanning the beach.

Chon’s been in Iraq, he’s been in Afghanistan . . .

. . . Go exotic.

She points to a beautiful South Asian girl with shimmering black hair setting off her white beach dress.

“Her.”

“Strikeout,” Chon answers. “Not my type.”

“What is your type?” O asks, frustrated.

“Tan,” Chon answers, “thin—sweet face—big brown eyes, long lashes.”

O turns to Ben.

“Ben, Chon wants to fuck Bambi.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(2)

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(5)

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2012

    A couple years ago, Don Winslow made waves with his fast and edg

    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 the other beginning in the 1960's. Both portions are presented in alternating sections until the two narratives meet in the latter portion of the book. The 1960's story tells the tale of young Californians experimenting with the various drugs of the time. A few characters, from various backgrounds, discover the potential business opportunities that these drugs posses, and become involved with the drug trade.

    In 2005, Ben, Chon and O, are all recent high school graduates. Instead of following the traditional paths of their peers, they grow their own highly potent marijuana. As they become recognized for their superior product, their competitors begin to take notice. They are required to pay a portion of their earnings to their competitors in order to continue selling their drugs (think a kind of business tax). In the course of a couple of weeks, Chon receives orders to take his third deployment to the war in Iraq, O begins to search for her unknown father, and Ben is left to deal with the business. After his competitors murder a couple of his street peddlers, Ben must try to deal with the problem.

    "The Kings of Cool" is the best thriller I have read this year. Winslow's unique writing style is the perfect vehicle for a story like this. His bare prose and timely observations provide a contemporary edge that breathes life into this unconventional tale. The characters are so convincing that you can't help but root for theses drug dealing criminals to beat out their competitors. The two story lines seamlessly weave together, all driving towards an ending with the perfect amount of twist and resolution. I thought that perhaps with all of the praise that "Savages" received, Winslow was somehow pressured into writing another novel with the same characters. Fortunately, he avoided the traps that many series authors fall in to, creating a story that felt naturally conceived and executed flawlessly. I understand that the subject matter and the way it is presented may be unappealing to some, but for those looking for a thriller that is a bit outside of their normal reading habits, this is a must read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2014

    Couldn't Get Into It

    Too many F words in first pages make me wish the author would use a dictionary. Decided not to read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Excellent

    Excellent

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Eileen to pierce

    Lets hang out ssometime

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Wonderful Read!!!

    I so enjoyed these characters. I'm sorry they are gone. Would love to know what happens next. I also recommend that you read Savages to get the whole story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    Hidy

    I did

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Anaka

    I do not act like a chicken blake

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Kyle to Luna

    Im there.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2012

    Elena

    Elena! I had my baby. Come visit me and Matthias (the babys name) at grainy result five.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    Josie

    Gtg. Nite. ~Elena

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    Elena?

    U there? Angel

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    Owlpaw

    Sighs and heads bak to camp

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2012

    This Book Kills

    This book is fast-paced and interesting. I loved the multi-generational story line and how they all came together in a epic conclusion. I'm reading Savages....immediately!

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    Posted July 25, 2012

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    Posted January 13, 2013

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    Posted July 9, 2012

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    Posted April 25, 2013

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