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City of God: A Novel Paperback – September 14, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
For instance, Rocket is a minor character in the book, Lil Ze is based on a character named Tiny, and the 'Tender Trio' is based on the characters Squirt, Hellraiser and Hammer. Carrot (called 'Carrots'in the book) and Knockout Ned (simply called 'Knockout') are about the only characters in the book that fans of the movie will recognize right off the bat. There's no mention of The Runts specifically, but dozens of other youngsters are. So many characters are introduced and killed off that it was impossible for me to keep up, but fans of the movie will notice bits and pieces of specific characters. Almost all the characters in the film are creations from several other characters in the book.
The book is more violent than the film. Paulo Lins describes the massacred bodies in grafic detail. The last third of the book (well over 100 pages) deals with the war between Knockout and Tiny.
Cocaine and marijuana is mentioned repeatedly throughout the book. Almost every character seems to use or deal the drugs. The world of dope dealing is thouroughly investigated in this book.
Paulo Lins does an amazing job of telling the story of the City of God, but for me it was hard to keep up with the countless characters. The film makers did a great job of adapting this massive story. So if your a fan of the movie, and want to get a different perspective of this Brazilian hell-hole, then check out the book, just don't expect it to be just like the film.
During the time this movie was made there were 100,000 people involved in the drug trade in Rio. The City of Rio required 100,000 civil servants to run the city. The sole reason for the existence of the State (i.e., protection of the serfs) is taken over by the drug dealer (if you are in his good graces). Do you see what a government is competing with? As a result, the police in Rio are said to be the best trained urban street fighting outfit in the world because they have to operate like an army. How can there ever be enough money or police to stop the drug trade? Is it clear things have gotten out of control? And this is how it is all over the third world. So how did this happen? What do you do - you can't contain it within its favela walls? The job of the police is now to try to protect the neighborhoods of the rich and middle class. Is this the true state of capitalism with regard to rich and poor in most of the world? I fear City of God is just the tip of the iceberg.
Based on a true story, this movie is raw, unadulterated life in which people whose God is violence, sex, drugs or even a pair of Nikes are living and dying, where the family is the gang and manhood is proven in sadistic ways. Not being able to choose where you are born, how do you raise a child under these circumstances? If you are a missionary, how do you approach this place?Read more ›
For one thing, some of the writing seems a little bit simplistic at times. I have to wonder if this is due to Lins' style, or if some things get a little lost in the translation.
A bigger issue is that there are way too many characters to keep up with, and only a precious few of them are developed enough for them to leave a mark on your memory. The trouble with that is that characters' start blending together. Add to that the fact that the story tends to jump around quite often. You'll be reading about a moment in the life of one character, when the story will take an abrupt turn to that of another, and it can be confusing to try to follow. I would have liked to see more focus on some of the major characters, rather than bits and pieces about the myriad criminal exploits of probably 20 or so characters. It's as if you keep waiting for a particular part of the story to peak, and it never really seems to. It simply branches off into another section of the story, which will likely end up in more violence.
On the other hand, I have to allow for the possibility that this was maybe Lins' intention. That the lives of these lost souls in the slums of Brazil just blend together in this sea of tragedy and hopelessness. Each person is just another cog in the wheel of violence. I can appreciate that. The novel's lack of structure may not make for the best reading experience, but it is somewhat unique.
For fans of the movie, it's worth a read, if for nothing else than to see what inspired Fernando Meirelles' cinematic masterpiece.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ive read it on the original language and the story is just a mishmash. fragments sewed in no aparent order, all characters are about the same and the story goes nowhere but keeps... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Rafael Vieira
This is the typical case of the book being better than the movie...and the movie was GOOD! I love a story with history and this book is just that. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ersula
Love the book just don't compare it to the movie. Better the 2nd or 3rd time around reading it since it has so many characters.Published 14 months ago by Destiny Bunn
The story is incredible and you get a real sense for life as a gangster in the favela. I think the translation into English may have taken away from the experience. Read morePublished 18 months ago by elsid
Various stories are simultaneously being told by the author at once. This makes it a little difficult to follow, but also keeps you turning the pages (at least for a while). Read morePublished on March 17, 2014 by JQ
Why did the author call this area "City of God" - I dont get it? I saw the movie and I dont believe it explains it there either. Read morePublished on January 10, 2014 by gypsyartist
Cidade de Deus (City of God), actually, the devil's city, a favela (slum), part of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by Ken Brimhall
The tough life of crime in the favelas, documented in a interesting style. Definitely similar to the movie, but different enough to be worth reading if you haven't seen the film.Published on November 16, 2012 by CloudJP