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Descent (2015)

por Tim Johnston

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MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
89811024,147 (3.67)56
"Descent, the story of a family undone by the disappearance of a daughter who went out for a morning run and didn't come back, marks the adult fiction debut of a remarkable young writer. Stunning in its emotional impact, Descent is a compulsively readable page-turner with a strong literary sensibility. The girl's vanishing--on a sunny, late-summer vacation morning--all the more devastating for its mystery, is the beginning the family's harrowing journey down increasingly divergent and solitary paths, until all that continues to bind them to each other are the questions they can never bring themselves to ask: At what point does a family stop searching? At what point does a girl stop fighting for her life? In the weeks and months that follow, hope leads to disillusionment, and each of them--father, mother, son--withdraws into emotional isolation, individually assessing the blame and assuming the responsibility for their collective loss. Haunting and unforgettable, Descent is a novel that will grab the reader's heart and mind, and will linger there long after the last page is turned" --… (mais)
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Inglês (112)  Holandês (1)  Todas as línguas (113)
Mostrando 1-5 de 113 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I thought about giving this one two stars since I did finish the book but I disliked the journey so much I'm giving it one star. I think this was a good concept for a book but I disliked just about everything in the execution.

I was in the mood for a good plot driven novel and when I saw an online ad for this one it seemed like a perfect fit: female runner goes missing and what happens next. I should have known from the start that I was in for a bumpy ride because I was immediately uncomfortable with the way the characters were referred to as "the boy" and "the girl" from the start. The characters have names...use them!

The concept of what happens to a family after one of them goes missing is a really interesting one. The tension it brings to a marriage, the feelings of guilt for all those involved, the pain of wondering where the missing person is and is she alive or dead. The Descent tries to tackle that but it is in such a disjointed way that I never felt any compassion for these people. In some cases, like with the Mother figure, I couldn't even follow what was happening in some chapters towards the end. There was also a heavy presence of cigarettes in the book. I felt like there was so much discussion about the characters smoking that it would eventually have some bearing on the plot but it never did.

The introduction of a bad guy to the story felt heavy handed and what happened next veered into territory that just made me want to throw the book across the room. The action ratchets up a lot in the last quarter of the book but in a way that felt both thrown together and generally ridiculous.

Do not recommend.


( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
You may think you know what's going on, but you might be wrong! Great read, but I don't want to say too much. Give this one a try. ( )
  Maryjane75 | Sep 30, 2023 |
This book is some brilliant ideas executed quite poorly. In trying to be a literary thriller, Descent really succeeds at neither genre. Nonetheless, in this failure, which is his debut novel, Johnston brings some rather unique ideas.

The bad news first: this is yet another abduction/serial sexual predator novel. Why is this even a thing that exists? Also, stranger abduction practically never happens in real life, which makes the profusion of novels on the topic extra strange. But further, this novel doesn't really spend much time on the abduction. I came to the novel having seen it compared to [b:Gone Girl|19288043|Gone Girl|Gillian Flynn|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1397056917s/19288043.jpg|13306276], so I thought it was a mystery and tried to read it as such -- paying attention to all the details. Unfortunately, that way lies utter madness: there simply is no conclusion to the vast majority of storylines. Why is Grant missing two fingers? Who was the alleged rapist that grabbed a ride with Sean and whatever happened to him? Why was Sean also called Dudley? What happened to Angela after Faith died and was the story she told the real story of the drowning? None of these questions have clear answers, except maybe the first (he was drunk, the end.) and the last (yes, apparently, as billed.) Even the idea of this novel as an exploration of a family after tragedy falls flat as Angela's story gets dropped completely after only two chapters, and Grant and Sean's stories don't really come together until they settle in with the Kinneys. Finally, as many reviewers have already noted: you can either feature multiple timelines or multiple narrators, but not both, especially when you refer to your protagonists only by gender 95% of the time.

The good news: there are so many cool ideas here. Johnston really wanted to look at the shockwaves of tragedy and the idea of vignettes of separate coping mechanisms had potential. I loved the idea to make it seem like the story of the "every-man" by referring only to characters as "the girl" or "the boy" and this was one of the most successful themes as it carried through also into Caitlyn's dissociative episodes in which she was watching someone else narrate her story. Johnston is also very into the idea of good luck, bad luck and religion as a result of experiencing bad luck, and this came through strongly, if heavy handedly, with nice parallelism with the story of Angela and Faith as well as the Kenney brothers.

Overall, a fairly weak and not very enjoyable novel, but an ambitious one. I will definitely consider reading his second effort. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
Niet al te mooi, weinig realistisch verhaal van een zus die loopt en haar broer die haar begeleidt in Nevada. De ouders zijn in het hotel. De dochter wordt ontvoerd en kan pas na een paar jaar zichzelf bevrijden, met de hulp van een etter van een jongen. Hij overlijdt, nadat hij de ontvoerder doodgeschoten heeft. Zij kan ontsnappen door haar voet af te houwen en de wonde toe te schroeien. Amai, zeg, wie daartoe in staat is? ( )
  Hoflack | Jul 24, 2023 |
I was enthralled by this suspenseful tale of a family shattered by the disappearance of their daughter, and the ways in which the tragedy affected each member differently. Characterization is finely wrought (with one exception which we’ll get to later), and Johnston does a bang-up job in creating a sense of place for the location along Colorado’s Front Range in the Rocky Mountains.

Caitlin Courtland disappears during an early-morning run while on a family vacation in the mountains, leaving behind her badly-injured 15-year-old brother Sean and no trace of herself except an aborted voicemail consisting of just the word “Daddy” and no other information.

The ways in which the three remaining Courtlands deal with the trauma propel much of the plot here. Caitlin’s father, Grant, refuses to leave Colorado until some definitive answer is found. His wife Angela retreats to the home of her sister in Wisconsin, taking shelter in medicated oblivion. And Sean, staying in Colorado with his father, recovers from his injuries but never from the notion that he somehow failed to protect his sister.

It’s at this point that Johnston lets us in on the fact that Caitlin is alive, but being held captive in a remote mountain shack, and the subsequent action moves among these four characters.

Johnston keeps things at a low boil with his movement among the main characters, and the book is hard to put down until the inevitable climax is set up. At that point, he rings in an uncharacteristic action by one of the supporting cast and the flow of the story jumps the track. It’s impossible to discuss this without committing a huge spoiler, but suffice to say that the device – set off by a virtually unbelievable coincidence – is a major flaw in what’s otherwise a compelling work.

This one gets a strong “B” rating from me. I’d like to rate it higher, but there are several pesky lapses that come back to nag at the reader once the book is finished.

Grant, Sean, and Angela, after being beautifully developed and given compelling moments on stage, all make decisions that seem to come out of nowhere. Sean takes off on a cross-country odyssey at 17, and his father does nothing to try to locate him. Hints of an emerging new romance for Angela surface briefly but are never developed. Grant seems to be able to walk away from his construction business in Wisconsin and survive in Colorado on nothing but a ranch caretaker’s job. On the other hand, the main drive of the story is so compelling that the reader is able to push these aside for the most part. It’s kind of like getting home from a long and exciting hike to realize you have blisters you weren’t even aware of at the time.

You can spend a weekend wrapped up in the build-up here, but it's hard not to feel a bit cheated, in hindsight. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Mar 21, 2023 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Tim Johnstonautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Bray, R. C.Narradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Sands, XeNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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What we chang'd // Was innocence for innocence; we knew not // The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd // That any did. -- William Shakespeare
May she be granted beauty and yet not // Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught. -- W.B. Yeats
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I dedicate this book to your daughters, and to mine.
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Her name was Caitlin, she was eighteen, and her own heart would sometimes wake her -- flying away in that dream-race where finish lines grew farther away not nearer, where knees turned to taffy, or feet to stones.
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"Descent, the story of a family undone by the disappearance of a daughter who went out for a morning run and didn't come back, marks the adult fiction debut of a remarkable young writer. Stunning in its emotional impact, Descent is a compulsively readable page-turner with a strong literary sensibility. The girl's vanishing--on a sunny, late-summer vacation morning--all the more devastating for its mystery, is the beginning the family's harrowing journey down increasingly divergent and solitary paths, until all that continues to bind them to each other are the questions they can never bring themselves to ask: At what point does a family stop searching? At what point does a girl stop fighting for her life? In the weeks and months that follow, hope leads to disillusionment, and each of them--father, mother, son--withdraws into emotional isolation, individually assessing the blame and assuming the responsibility for their collective loss. Haunting and unforgettable, Descent is a novel that will grab the reader's heart and mind, and will linger there long after the last page is turned" --

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