My Semi-Fictional Life #10 (A Review)

Today we have a review for Gabino Iglesias’s sophomore effort, Zero Saints.

First, let’s get this bit out of the way. You need more than a passing knowledge of Spanish to understand every word of this book. If the extent of your Spanish is Dora the Explorer, prepare yourself for much Google Translate. My friend Janie C., who I buddy read this with, says you can use your Kindle to translate selections, but she also said it didn’t work for words like pinches. In other words, it doesn’t help with the cussing. I didn’t have a translation option at all because I read the super sexy paperback. (Seriously, this book is fucking gorgeous. *tips hat to whoever designed it*)

Anyway, I read it without the aid of Google Translate or Kindle and I don’t feel as if I missed anything. Of course, I grew up in California and ran with a bunch of dudes who just happened to be Mexican, so I was able to catch all the foul language and much of the Spanglish. The prayers? I skipped those entirely. And STILL I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. That being said, yes, it was annoying as fuck to have to skim over entire sections and wonder what I was missing. Because, on average, there’s a line of Spanish in almost every single paragraph, if not more. There’s whole paragraphs and entire strings of text in Spanish, and I’m positive I missed one whole conversation because of it. But (third times the charm) I do not feel as if I missed anything.

That being said, I loved every minute of this book. Had it not been a buddy read, I would’ve tore through it in two sittings. Gabino Iglesias can write his ass off, in English and Spanish, and even a touch of Russian. Do I expect people to read this and be pissed off that they don’t understand whole sections of the text? Yeah, I do. But those sections add to the authenticity of the narrative. I would have liked to see some kind of explanation for bits of dialogue, but I understood the overall story enough to enjoy myself. So, if you can stand not knowing or having to search for the meaning of what’s written in parts, I recommend the book. If not, seriously, stay the fuck away. No reason to annoy yourself. If you speak Spanish, by all means, buy the fuck out of this book.

The magic showcased in the book rings true. There’s one bit with a ritual involving an egg. I’ve actually seen it done in the real world. I found that rather cool. I also dug what I will call the final reveal. Indio’s appearance at the end was bone-chilling. But my absolute favorite parts of this book are when the author goes into loose second-person. All the “What happens when you…” chapters were so well written. They really showcased what Iglesias is capable of.

The ending does suffer from framing. The way the novel is set up, you can imagine the who of the situation if not the what. I’ll explain in the Spoiler Discussion section.

In summation: A great read that many will find unreadable due to the language barrier. I dug it anyway, and if I missed anything, I don’t know what it is. I received a full experience, even though I’m sure I missed something.

Final Judgment: Pinches gringos might become lost.

Spoilers after the break


Spoiler Discussion:

I was waiting for the Russian to pop back up at the end. Everyone else was dead and Fernando was out of options, so I read the last bit thinking, “Where’s the Russian?” When he popped up and matrixed Indio, I just kinda nodded.

What do I mean by “matrixed”? Well, remember that bit inThe Matrix where Trinity appears next to an agent and sticks a gun to his temple and says, “Dodge this,” before pulling the trigger and saving Neo? Yeah, that’s the final scene of the book.

Nothing bad. I simply saw it coming is all.

Thanks for joining me.

End Spoilers

Thanks for joining me. See you tomorrow,


Pic of the Day



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