The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachino

MY RATING: ★★/5

A prismatic tale of a group of characters who emerge and recede throughout the novel and touch one another’s lives in ways even they cannot comprehend, The Lucky Ones captures the intensity of life in Colombia as paramilitaries, guerrillas, and drug traffickers tear the country apart. Combining vivid descriptions of life under siege with a hallucinatory feel that befits its violent world, The Lucky Ones introduces a truly original and exciting new voice in fiction.

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The marketing campaign describes it as “a jigsaw puzzle”. Oh my god. Hell yes it was! Julianne Pachico not only tells a single story but many stories from different point of views and… in the same chapter. It was very confusing to me. I never knew who the narrator was or how it changed from one event to another, and slowly, it started to only make sense after a few chapters. I think the fact that it was all over the place ruined the reading experience for me.

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I have to admit it was fun in the first few chapters to guess and make the connections between the characters. Unfortunately, when you leave me hanging for a very long time and you don’t EVER talk about the plot holes, it bothers me A. LOT. After all, the point of the suspense is to incite the readers to keep reading and get the answers in the end.. right?  Nooope. Not with this novel.

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The 3 stars are for the creativity of the author to conceive the Colombian struggle through the eyes of different set of characters and personalities. The War Drugs, The Guerilla, the massacre. We have a kidnapped teacher who keeps on teaching to branches and rocks (By the way, I didn’t read Hamlet to this day, so the fact that there was a chapter with a few pages analysis of Shakespeare’s piece has utterly spoiled all the story for me… #bookworm trigger), the bullied who later becomes the terrorists and many more. Julianne Pachino  had in mind a great concept but I think the execution issue needed to be addressed.

Of course, we can’t deny the facts that Colombia has undergone one of the most violent and brutal events of all time and I admire the author for talking about it. She addressed the gap between the elite and the dispossessed citizens but in the end, everybody suffers and no one really wins. The Lucky Ones is an ironic title because no one is really lucky in this novel. 

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This book has received mixed reviews as people who love it will easily give it 5 stars but for some it’s a 2 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in hearing about the lives of dark times in Colombia and the effects it has on the victims. But I will warn you about the shattered narrative (maybe sit in a quiet place to commit your attention 100% on the book).

Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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8 thoughts on “The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachino

  1. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    I’ll admit when you mentioned this book has been described as “a jigsaw puzzle” I was definitely intrigued, but when when I read about the plot holes in this book I was a little put off again. This sounds like an amazing book, and now I’ve read your review I am interested in learning more about it, but the fact that it left you hanging leaves me to believe it will likely do the same for me.
    Still great review for this book Trang! 🙂

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  2. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Gosh this sounds pretty strange- I’ve not read many books described as a jigsaw puzzle- I’m intrigued but the it sounds like this was a bit of a confusing read (which is not my favourite kind of book). Great review!

    Like

  3. Grab the Lapels says:

    I hadn’t heard of this book until your review. Any ideas on why the author chose this form to present such content? Maybe the fractured narrative was meant to represent the fractured lives of the people in Columbia. Either way, if readers can’t digest the information, it goes matter how clever the form is.

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