Colombiano by Rusty Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really loved Rusty’s Marching Powder
which proves that truth can be stranger than fiction. While I think Colombiano is an important book with a story that needed to be told, I can’t rate it quite as highly.
Young isn’t a naturally gifted writer. This didn’t matter so much in Marching Powder where the charismatic Thomas’s voice shone through. But working in fiction, Rusty can’t make his characters come alive. He lacks a gift for dialogue and, other than Pedro’s best friend, Palillo, all the figures remained cardboardy for me.
Unfortunately, this includes Colombian child paramilitary soldier Pedro himself. I never cared about happened to him and had no difficulty in putting this book aside for long periods of time.
For me there are also structural problems with this book. The start is slow moving for long periods and at 686 pages this book is at least 100 pages too long. I hated the short chapters.
In spite of it’s faults I don’t recommend giving up on this novel. The events near the end are horribly violent, but genuinely thrilling and document a horrible and shameful part of world history.
Two more things. The cover (designed by Jem Butcher Design) is awesome. The silhouette of the child soldier truely moved me.
Thanks to Havelock & Baker Publishing for emailing me a paperback copy of this book and being happy for me to share my genuine opinions on this book.