Colombiano

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

This is a great big book. 

But....

Is it a great-big book or a great big-book? That's debatable. 

Despite the short chapters, it still reads like a great-big book which makes for a less than great big-book.

For me to really enjoy a great-big book I need to connect with the characters on a cellular level. I felt no investment in Pedro and his plight to avenge his father's murder and that disconnect lies solely in the lap of the authors inability to humanize this young character. 

This is a fascinating story with tremendous potential and I have no regrets investing my time to read it. But it felt more like a perfunctory lesson than epic storytelling. 

It's a good great-big book. 

3.5 Stars rounded up ⭐


** Thank you to Lily from Havelock and Baker Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  **
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Thank you  to NetGalley, Havelock & Baker Publishing, and the author Rusty Young for an advanced copy for my review

This was a powerhouse of a book, that caught my attention right away
A strong and powerful book, that I could not put down right from the beginning.
It was both informative, and interesting.
Pedro Gutierrez was a normal fifteen-year-old family boy, who loved spending time going fishing with his father, attending church with his mother, and hanging out with his girlfriend, Camila.
A book full of tragedy, and love in Columbia which is ruled by the drug trade and power
Young soldiers whom are trained from an early age.

I found that I was totally enveloped by the story and the lives of these young soldier trainees

However as the book developed, it was just too long and I stared to loose interest. At over 800 pages it became a bit of a struggle to continue on. Although I really enjoyed the story, I feel it could have all been said with a few more pages

However a book I would recommend, and did enjoy reading
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When posed with summarising this book into a review I feel a little overwhelmed.
First off, this is more of a journey that we have been privileged to experience, a journey of pain, love, revenge, hatred, enlightenment and atonement.

This is a really powerfully written book. Rusty Young opted to relay an eye opening account of child soldiers in Columbia in a fictional format rather than through a documentary styled account.  Although the sad reality is that no further sensationalism was required. This is a portrayal of real-life, of what happens to society when a war funded by corruption and drugs uses lies and propaganda to lure children into believing they are fighting for a just cause. And even if they don’t choose a side themselves, one would be picked and the journey of desensitization and mind-washing begin.

Unfortunately there are no winners in this war, there are no just causes. People from both sides share the same stories and backgrounds, the same beliefs and morals. They have simply been indoctrinated by one group before the other.  

Columbiano does have a light at the end of the tunnel though. We know that there are stories of children escaping this turmoil. That there are people out there, like Rusty himself, that are committed to fighting for humanity.
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:: content warning :: murders, war, drug trafficking, exploitation, graphic violence, racism & torture.

powerful. heartfelt. terrifying. based in fact regarding colombia’s child soldiers. where fact and fiction are entwined to give readers thought-provoking information about the conflicts between the guerrilla, the army and the autodefensa.

despite colombiano being a massive book with 800+ pages, it doesn’t slow down or drag at any points, due to rusty young’s writing style, in-depth details, characters you can’t not like and a fascinating storyline—it is really hard to put this book down.
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Gritty, Raw, Powerful, Captivating, Thought provoking and gut wrenching.

What happens when you really don't have a choice? What happens when choices are made for you? What happens when your life changes in an instant? What happens when you make a simple decision and it changes your life and outlook.

Pedro Gutiérrez is a happy teenager living in Columbia. He spends his days going to school, fishing, spending time with his best friend, Palillo and his girlfriend, Camilla. His world instantly changes when Guerrilla soldiers execute his father in front of him. Vowing vengeance, he goes on a journey that takes him from being a happy teen to a child soldier in a paramilitary where he is trained to shot, fight and kill.  Vengeance is always in his mind as he perfects his skills in hopes of tracking down the man who killed his father.

It is safe to say that this is not your average coming of age story. There are parts (many) in this book that are quite gruesome but are important for the story as these things are real.  Blending fact with fiction, this book looks at how child soldiers are trained, and used to fight battles over land territory, politics, cocaine, and power.

How far will he go before he can say "vengeance is mine?"  This is a HUGE book and at times it did feel it's size. But it also felt powerful, sad, realistic and shocking. It's sad to sit and think that there are child soldiers in many parts of the world who have lost their childhood and innocence for a life of violence.  That there are places where a good man does what he feels in his heart is the right thing to do and pays for it with his life?  This book is very realistic and visual. It is also well written, well thought out, perfectly paced and researched. This book took me though several feelings and emotions. 

This one was hard to put down and had my attention from the start. 

Thank you to Rusty Young, Lily from Havelock & Baker Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I knew something about the situation in Colombia through films and news about organisations such as the Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar but this book made the terrible situation that Colombians faced all too real. This is Pedro’s story and his experiences in Autodefensas following the murder of his father by the communist FARC Guerilla. Pedro is 15 (some are as young as 12) when he joins this militia with the intention of seeking revenge against his fathers killers. This is an unrelenting story of killing, cruelty, kidnaps, bombings, treachery and betrayal and of course all too present is control of the supply of cocaine. Pedro becomes a ruthless killer and though his experiences he becomes inured to cruelty and violence to the horror of his girlfriend Camila. The story is fast paced, describes events that beggar belief, they are so awful that it almost takes your breathe away. Pedro doggedly and bravely pursues his fathers killers but along the way makes terrible discoveries about people that he trusts. There is hypocrisy and double dealing in abundance. The ending is good and the situation for Pedro and his family and the area he lives in seems to be improving, so there is cause for some restrained optimism.
My criticism of the book lies with its length (700 pages) and although it’s horribly fascinating it takes grit to stick with it. It’s so unrelenting in the horror although I have to say I am very glad I’ve read it has led to greater understanding of Colombia and its people. 
Overall, a very well written book which is well researched.
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Based on true events, this story of revenge, betrayal, and corruption follows the fictional character Pedro. Growing up in Llorona, a war-torn land who makes good on the promise to kill those who snitch, Pedro witnesses the murder of his father. At fifteen years old, going on sixteen, he joins the Autodefensas in order to extract revenge on the Guerillas who killed his father. However, his alliance with the Autodefensas creates conflicts in his relationships.
It truly is a great story with remarkable characters that endured so much. From the drug trafficking to the kidnappings, I really enjoyed it.

Now, to my technical details! Early on his father is killed and Pedro vows to kill each man who took part in his father’s murder. After this occurs and he joins the paramilitary, Pedro’s training with the Autodefensas is detailed until 24% (on a Kindle). That leaves 25%-97% being the tale of a teenage boy carrying out revenge. It is an 800+ page book, so this was a very drawn-out revenge. It just kept going and going and I took off an entire star because of it. At a certain point (55% for those interested) I wanted the revenge to be over and the story to progress, but Pedro still had more revenge to pursue. Though entertaining and a powerful story, this left me feeling winded as a reader. 

It was full of thoughtful and meaningful prose which caused me to highlight a lot. It has a lot of violence and vulgar content, too: scenes with dead body parts floating in the water, boys calling each other s.o.b’s every few pages, etc. There are a few sex scenes, but the sexy details are not included. 

There are many Spanish words, but most are cognates. However, if you are unfamiliar with basic Spanish words then I recommend reading on a Kindle in order to translate. There is a glossary of Spanish terms at the end, but that seems superfluous to have to flip back and forth.

I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and those with multicultural interests. Overall, a great compelling read about a boy soldier in Colombia with many well-researched details. Many thanks to Lily Green at Havelock & Baker Publishing for this copy. All opinions are my own.
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Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel, received in exchange for an honest review. 
Pedro Gutierrez is a teenager living in Colombia, spending weekends fishing with his dad is his only pastime, that and desperately waiting until his sixteenth birthday, when his girlfriend Camilla has promised to lose her virginity to him. However, that all changes when the Guerrilla forces charge his home and kill his father right in front of him. Desperate for revenge, Pedro risks everything to join the illegal Paramilitary and get justice. As he comes up in the ranks, Pedro begins to realize that his quest for revenge is becoming an obsession and putting everyone he loves at risk. 
“Colombiano” by Rusty Young is a tough book to read. On one hand, the novel is long. Over 800 pages of graphic violence, drug use and guerilla warfare, it is not for the faint of heart. It reads like a non-fiction memoir, although it claims to be fiction novel based on real events, and the reality of this storyline is thought-provoking and eye-opening. 
Pedro is a character that is easy to root for. Although he is struggling to live in a gang-controlled third world country, his passion and desperation for revenge are emotions that anyone can connect with. The story is told from his perspective throughout, and all 800 pages are full of intense action. Young has a talent for storytelling, as his novel is well thought out, his characters are well developed and there is a nice flow to the plot, each chapter segueing nicely into the next. 
This was a difficult novel for me to review. The story was told very well, and I had no problems with the format or the style of the novel. It was full of dramatic elements, and ended in a satisfying way. Based on Young’s storytelling alone, the novel would be a five-star read. 
However, I am not a fan of the non-fiction memoir, and this novel reads like it belongs in this genre. Haltingly real and powerful, the gruesome story of guerrilla warfare in Colombia is not something I would’ve picked up on my own. Had this novel not been passed on to me by the publisher, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I wanted to see this novel through to the end, as I was invested in Pedro and what his outcome would be, but I also was desperate to finish the 800 pages so I could move on to something else. 
“Colombiano” is a novel that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. It is powerful and violent, and will provide perspective to those of us living our comfortable First World lives. It will teach you something, and open your eyes to the dark evils in other parts of the world, which has its own appeal. For me, this novel was not what I expected, in many ways, but the non-fiction style was a little disappointing and made this story a little “less” than it could have been.
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I have been wrestling with my feelings about this book since the very first chapter, probably even going back to the email I received from the publisher, Havelock, and Baker, offering me a chance to read Colombiano in exchange for an honest review. Before I said yes to their offer, I read the jacket and breezed through a small number of reviews, like any reasonable reader would, to get a sense of what it was I would agree to do. 

On the surface, the task seemed simple; I would be consenting to read a war novel, and I don’t typically read war novels as I have found them to be formulaic. But with this book, I knew there was also a particularly exciting sub-theme; the main character, Pedro Gutierrez, is sixteen years old, which places him as far from the typical war novel hero as he could be placed. (Plus one for reasons to read Colombiano.) In my mind, the question “how can a sixteen-year-old boy possibly carry this war-theme forward” was tantalizing enough that I figured I would have something to focus on if the war theme did indeed become tedious.

And with that bit of calculus done, Pedro and I were off on what I hoped was a grand adventure. 

I settled into the story quickly, learning about the life of a rural Colombian farming community through Pedro’s interaction with his neighbors and friends. They live in Llorona, which on the surface appears to be a quiet, religious farming community. Their life is calm and straightforward, and their ambitions are no different. Pedro will one day take over the farm with his girlfriend Camila, whom he loves deeply, already, at sixteen years of age. Incongruous, but I decided I could look the other way; it helps to suspend disbelief to allow the story to build. (Pedro’s relationship with Camila becomes foundational to the story, so I’m glad I bought it from the beginning.)

Through a series of events, we learn much about the tension in the seemingly quiet Llorona brought about by the local cocaine trade and the Communist Guerillas. Rural life doesn’t provide much in the way of career choices; it appears you are a farmer, a farmhand, or you participate in the production of coca leaves. I’m sure there are other choices, but they seem to be few and far between. According to Pedro and the local populace, the guerillas control the cocaine industry in the region, which also allows them to dictate much of what the local business people are allowed to do.

The Colombian government has a muted presence in the village as well in the form of resident General Buitrago. This should help balance the power of the guerillas, but that isn’t the case. They’ve become nearly toothless due to the rising power of those pesky guerillas. 


The story gets rolling when are introduced to the third leg of the military tripod, the AUC, United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Pedro is seen talking to a known AUC recruiter in the local market, which is unacceptable in the eyes of the guerilla, and their eyes are everywhere. The guerillas confront Pedro and his father and accuse them of providing the military with water from their farm, which is a major no-no. Pedro is held down by a guerilla commando and forced to watch them execute his father right in their front yard. Pedro and his mother are then banished from their farm and told not to bury Pedro’s father, or there will be repercussions. Now it's on. The story officially begins here. Pedro’s revenge we could call it. I will leave out much of the critical matter since it will likely spoil the story for anyone interested in reading it. 

I will be honest here. As this story was based on actual events,  I had more trouble than I would like dealing with the line between fiction and non-fiction that the reader is forced to straddle. It’s precarious, to say the least. Pedro is introduced to us as a typical sixteen-year-old schoolboy with the concerns that accompany part of life. The transformation he undergoes is remarkable, unbelievable even. If that portion of the tale is the actual truth, this story becomes nothing short of astonishing. For me, though, the suspension of disbelief became like a Husafell Stone, nearly impossible for me to carry. But that is my problem.

The only other problem between me and the page had to do with pacing. Many of the chapters were only one or two pages. While this isn’t a problem in and of itself, in this case, it meant that too much was left unsaid. It looked to me like there were ample opportunities to add some substance to many of the chapters or some more thought to the dialogue. Maybe this was done intentionally since the POV was from that of a teenager. Plausible or not, it was disruptive. I like to settle into the story, the mechanics of that stand with the narrative flow. That flow found me more often toward the end, once the resolution was well on its way, but still too late to make the entire experience pleasurable.
 
The completion of this story left me with an overall sense of relief. Much of this feeling was due to the subject matter in the book. The content is disturbing to contemplate and to know that a good portion of this book is factual, made my stomach churn. The understanding that people in Colombia live like this is difficult to fathom and terrible to see up close and in detail. I want to thank the publisher once again for allowing me this experience. Regardless of my feelings about the book, I appreciate the opportunity and enjoyed the process very much.
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This was a really good read. It is not great literature nor does it explore the deep psychological impact of involvement in combat. However, the simple language somehow resounds as a story as it would be told by a 15 or 16 year old, and hence it has a feel of authenticity. I had little knowledge of the terrible struggles in Colombia and this book spares no detail. A terrific read.
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*Copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion*

I don't want to lie - this book was hard for me to read. I wasn't even thinking how hard it would be when I agreed to read it. Yes, maybe the characters in it were fictional but you can't argue about the story itself being universally true and from my standpoint, where my country too is torn and divided by war, relatable.

I was blown away by the ease with which the author was able to pull me in and put me by Pedro's side throughout the story. I was in his head the whole time, even when I really didn't want to be.

There's really something to be said about stories that draw from life, you can't ignore and dismiss them as soon as you finish like you can your fiction. They stay with you for a long time, make you think and chew for yourself. That's why, even though I really don't like to leave my fiction bubble, sometimes I need to burst it just a little and books like this are the way to do it. I highly recommend it.

Over and out
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I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Havelock & Baker Publishing, and the author Rusty Young. 
This was an interesting concept, and I was intrigued to discover more about Colombia and it's tragic drug war history. 
However, it felt much too long, and I really struggled to make my way through it. I agree with some of the other reviewers in their opinion that Young isn't a very natural writer. The dialogue and narrative felt stilted and forced all the way through, and unfortunately the characters felt one-dimensional and undeveloped. 
Hard work, 2.5 stars.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Havelock & Baker for providing me with this engrossing, intense ARC in return for an honest review. This was a powerful epic which featured violence, family devotion, moral choices, young love, and a country ripped apart. 

 I found the story informative and was totally absorbed. I had been in Colombia a very short time in a small town on the Amazon, but my knowledge of the country was severely limited.  I knew a bit about Pablo Escobar from Netflix, and how the country was the centre of jungle drug labs, cocaine manufacturing and distribution. I was aware of political turmoil, guerrilla insurgents, death squads, kidnapping, which made it a dangerous place. Reading the book gave me a greater understanding of the country, and how it’s people often had to go against their moral values to survive.  

  The almost 700 pages was not a deterrent, as I was gripped by the exciting, suspenseful plot from the beginning. Everything was important to understand the extreme dangers, heartbreaking losses, and the mindsets of the characters.  

Pedro Gutierrez was a normal fifteen-year-old boy who enjoyed helping on the family farm, going fishing with his father, attending church with his mother, and hanging out with his girlfriend, Camila, and with his best friend, Palillo. One terrible day he witnessed his father brutally murdered by guerrilla soldiers. He and his mother were ordered off their farm and forbidden to give the father a religious burial on consecrated grounds. Pedro vowed revenge on his father’s killers.  

 This led Pedro with his friend, Palillo, to voluntarily join the Autodefencas, a paramilitary group where they endured brutal training and rose in the ranks. Pedro witnessed barbaric torture of guerrilla fighters and their deadly retaliation. The training led to a moral descent and hardened him for vengeance for his father’s death. Thoughts of revenge became an obsession. 

Paramilitary groups, which included the Autodefencas, were comprised mainly of wealthy land or business owners who formed private armies and death squads.  Both the paramilitaries and the guerrilla fighters trained and utilized child soldiers. Some were tricked or kidnapped into the militia. Others joined willingly, preferring the training camps to abusive situations at home. 

The Guerrillas consisted mainly of peasants. They claimed to be fighting against poverty and social inequality with the aim of toppling the government and replacing it with communism.  

 The author, Rusty Young, interviewed child soldiers in Colombia. This is a brilliant work of fiction and has a definite ring of truth.
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WOW, Wow, Wow and wow. There are no words to describe just how, astonishingly, good this book is. 
I really enjoyed Marching Powder, so when I was asked to read and review Colombiano for the publisher and #Netgalley I jumped at the chance. To be honest, I was a little worried that I would struggle to understand the politics of a 'war book' but there was nothing to fret about; this was, hands down, one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. 

It's post Pablo Escobars Colombia, but now the country is in the midst of a devastating civil war. The army and police can't, or won't, protect it's civilians from the communist Guerilla forces, so a new fighting force is born; the Autodefensas. Their aim is to fight back and defeat the terrorists and ultimately restore law and order.

Fifteen-year-old Pedro lives on a small farm in the town of Llorona with his hardworking, loving parents. He's doing well in school, has a beautiful girlfriend, he goes to church regularly and enjoys fishing with his father. It was a good life but Llorona has been taken over by the guerilla soldiers. The charming little town is now a lawless, terrifying place. There are kidnappings and murders daily, every citizen is forced to pay vacunas; taxes the guerilla use to fund their war. The only thing thriving now is cocaine production and the corrupt politicians that are only interested in helping themselves.
After a terrible tragedy, and whilst still, in a fog of grief and anger Pedro joins the Autodefensa's. Not because he believes in what they do, but because he wants revenge. Will it make him feel better? Or will his obsession for justice take from him all the good things left in his life?
The author writes Pedro's journey, from angry child soldier set on punishing all those who have wronged, to a mature, brave and forgiving hero, so well you feel like you are there by his side the whole time. I was on the edge of my seat; dodging every bullet with him, feeling the emotional highs of a victory and the devastating lows of a loss.
This book will take you through more emotions than you even knew you had and you'll enjoy every bloody word.
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Captivating from start to finish! 
“The war was like a slow burning campfire onto which both sides occasionally threw wood. And that’s probably the way it would’ve continued, if not for the arrival of the
Autodefensas”.  ( United Self-Defenders of Colombia).

The campaign against organize crime in Columbia, has caused a violent response, increasing vulnerability of the civilian population due to the skirmishes between the organizations and the federal forces. 

Author Rusty Young, Australian born, was recruited as a Program Director of the U.S. Government anti-kidnapping program in Columbia. 
It was so dangerous, that Rusty Young, had to keep his job completely secret from his family and friends. 
Hate, violence, drugs, children soldiers, a divided country.....Columbia had the highest murder rate of journalists in the world.  Rusty, himself wasn’t a true journalist- but he might as well have been. He was working in a country with two terrorist organizations whose members numbered in the tens of thousands.  
The first group was the FARC Guerrilla. Farmers aimed to fight poverty and social inequality by toppling the government and installing communist rule. To fund their revolution, they taxed businesses and kidnapped their rich, appropriating their lands for redistribution to the poor. 
The second group - the Paramilitaries- was created in response.  Wealthy land business owners, tired of the governments failure to protect them, formed their own private militias and ‘death squads’.  

Young’s dedication to human rights - risking the safety of his own life - and the lives of others he interviewed - being in the heart of corruption and violent crimes - tells me that Rusty Young is one heck of an extraordinary human being....let alone an exciting storyteller.  

This story - fact and fiction IS GRIPPING - written in storytelling - dramatic- style. It reads like a thriller.....true crime suspense with frightening - complicated revenge, danger, betrayal, power struggles, cocaine, punishment, death, and eventually a form of redemption.   

The book begins when Pedro Gutierrez, the teenage adolescent narrator, was 15 years of age. 
Pedro’s father was executed in front of him by Guerrilla soldiers. He and his mother were extradited from their farm.  Pedro retaliates by joining an illegal paramilitary group with his close friend Palillo.  

It’s a long book - but reads fast: Pedro, Palillo, and the other teens are brave in the face of unimaginable adversity. 
Engrossing from the first page. Stunning story of strength and survival. It is sometimes brutal....but always fascinating.  It shows terrorism at a shockingly personal level.  

“Child-soldiers”....( two words that don’t belong together), has always been unfathomable to me.  But “Colombiano ” is a wrenching, and mesmerizing important story. 
Rusty Young describes the unthinkable, and the unforgettable. 

Inspiring triumph....this book shines with energy - leaving a profound impression on the reader.  I never - EVER- expected THIS BOOK - to be SUCH A PAGE TURNER....but anyone who starts it, is bound to have their own unputdownable experience. 

“Crouching in a ditch with Palillo, an hour before dawn, I realized my life was now divided in two. The time before Papa. And the time after. 
    “My dream of running the ‘finca’, ( Farm), with him and taking it over during his old age was shattered, and I replaced it with a far darker ambition: to track down and punish his murderers”.

Powerful as can be! 
Many thanks to Lily at Havelock & Baker Publishing with the advance gift of both the Audiobook and ebook. Listening to interviews with the author - enriched my admiration for Rusty Young.  
Thanks again, Lily .....( I’m genuinely glad I read this....I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget.

Kudos to Rusty Young.....( mean guy...now I ‘must’ read your first book, Marching Powder”).  I loved your interview talking about Bolivia, and your ‘REQUEST’ to stay in the San Pedro prison.   Glad you never smuggled drugs in! Ha!
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With a clear and fast-paced plot; Young quickly envelopes the reader in the world of child soldiers, often normalising it.  The characters of Palillo & Camila help to maintain balance throughout and keep the darkness in check, until Pedro finds his conscience.
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Colombiano is a fictional novel based on interviews with real people.  It takes the reader on a journey into the heart of Colombia, but its a heart that has been cleft in two and ripped apart.  Rural Colombia is beset by the Communist revoluntaries of FARC who, in their quest to topple the status quo, have set out a reign of terror.  Faced against the Guerrillas (as they are generally referred to in the book) are a paramilitary black ops organization, the Autodefensas Unidas.  The Autodefensas are not regular army and the army and the government can claim lack of knowledge for anything the Autodefensas do.  And, in the background is the cocaine industry, which pays for the Guerrillas and infects the wealthy class.

Pedro is growing up in a small town, going to high school, dating Camila, making plans to go to the university together in Bogota.  But, this is a world of child-soldiers and, after Pedro is seen with Autodefensas recruiters, Pedro's father is brutally murdered in front of him by the Guerrillas and he and his mother are forbidden from ever setting foot on their property again.  Pedro swears vengeance and joins the Autodefensas with his best friend.  They train on a secret base, reminiscent of any grunts being whipped into shape on any military training facility.  The weak are separated from those who succeed.  But, one difference, there is no room for the weak or the disloyal in the Autodefensas and the brutality and murders that take place among the teenage recruits turn them from innocent teenagers to violent mercenaries.  Through it all, Pedro never stops plotting revenge.

It is a long book, but wonderfully written from Pedro's point of view as he plots his vengeance and climbs through the ranks of the Autodefensas.  The story portrays the world of the child-soldiers across Latin America, Africa, and other places.  It shows where vengeance leads as it eats you alive and spits you out and poisons everything it touches.  The story shows how the circle of violence keeps growing as one act leads to another and everyone is caught up in it and Pedro can't let go no matter the consequences.  Ultimately, it shows a world rotten at its core and few ways to escape.  

This is a terrific novel and well worth reading.  Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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A very powerful and incredibly disturbing book. Right from the beginning this book keeps you engrossed. The author has done a fantastic job while writing the story of Pedro.  The characters in the book were well developed and believable. I had mixed reactions while reading the book, it was totally unputdownable but at times it was so depressing and hard hitting that you wanted to read something light in between. A really good book! Thanks to Havelock & Baker Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book.
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It is said that books are a way of travelling without moving from your cosy nook in the house, and Colombiano was a bumpy but beautiful ride. I had minimal knowledge about Colombia, all of it through the Netflix show, ‘Narcos’. The show focused on Pablo Escobar’s cocaine trafficking cartel but as it was based in Colombia, the grave political situation there was hard to miss. I was aware about the communist guerrillas, the army efforts to manage the drug trafficking and America’s involvement, but to read a book based from the point of view of a 16-year-old boy who was living in those conditions was enlightening. The book revolves around Pedro, whose simple happy life is destroyed when his father is executed by the guerrillas and he decides to take revenge on all the killers. He joins the Autodefensas, a paramilitary organisation that aims to eradicate the communists from Colombia and restore it back to peace. Pedro’s journey through the organisation, the gruelling training, the bonds he makes, and how through all this his desire to kill his father’s murderers is the sole motivating factor, is beautifully described in the book. Pedro’s childhood friend, Palilio, is a constant support for him who is not blinded by revenge and whose practical approach saves Pedro from many disasters. The book is also about Pedro’s internal journey and how he deals with loss. Pedro is just a character through whom, thousands of lives in Colombia are shown. The book is really well written, never losing the reader’s interest and clearly depicting the complicated political situation in Colombia and the consequences of each ideology. It made me realize the importance of living in a democratic country and appreciate the stable government, no matter how much we criticize it every day.  The thing I liked about the book is that even though it is long, the chapters are short so one does not get weary. I loved the book, the characters, the style of writing, the relations, and Colombia. The author has given a brief introduction in the beginning which explains how he came to work in Colombia and how he fell in love with the country. This book does the same to you.
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I was super happy when the publisher reached out about this new book by Rusty Young.  I loved Marching Powder and I also spent a year and a half in Colombia so getting more inside the recent events there really interested me.  

Unfortunately, that is where the excitement ended.  I enjoyed the book for a bit, but then I just couldn't continue.  I ended up not finishing it.  Once I was able to realize that the narrator's voice did not sound like someone from Colombia, that is when I became disinterested.  You can tell it was written by someone outside of growing up and experiencing everything first hand.  Plus the book is over 800 pages.  

The book has great reviews on goodreads but I just couldn't do it.  Once I put it down, I never picked it back up.
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