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by Tim Johnston

Descent by Tim Johnston X
Descent by Tim Johnston
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 384 pages

    Dec 2015, 400 pages


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  • Patricia D. (Woodland Hills, CA)
    Descent is an amazing story
    This book drew me in like a magnet. The story is simple. A girl disappears and her family searches for her. But what Tim Johnston does with this story is what is amazing. His language and style has a mesmerizing feeling and hypnotizes the readers into the flow of the words. The reader has to work at the story to learn about the characters and get into their minds. Nothing is given away free in this book. The reader earns the right to love this novel - learning the mysteries and secrets. I really felt like I was there with each person, pushing on with them, not giving up. I could smell the pines, the sweat, the wilderness. I don't know how Johnston did it, but I read in his bio that he is a teacher of creative writing at U of Memphis, so he must be great at what he does. DESCENT shows his great ability. This is a book I'll read again when I'm not on a timeline. I want to hear the language a second time and love and hate the characters - their actions and words and the uniqueness of each page and character. This book left a lasting impression on me not because of the story, but because of the wonderful language experience. Don't miss this one!
  • Tracy N. (Mill Valley, CA)
    The Descent into madness, isolation and survival.
    Descent is about the devastating consequences for a family after a kidnapping.
    I recommend this book because of the powerful character development and imagery. The descriptions of isolation, coldness and loss are paralyzing. The author nails the exchanges between the locals, their conversations,and the unevenness of their lives, the hardships and the paucity of words. The dialogue is tight and reflects the conservation of energy needed to exist in this landscape. Tim Johnston knows this territory and the flawed characters that survive in spite of hostile circumstances. To be honest, I had difficulty with the first third of the book. The story is a bit fragmented in the beginning, I found the going back and forth from character to character in each chapter was disorienting. It is understandable that nothing makes sense when your college bound daughter is lost in the wilderness, but the author's method almost lost me. I realized his technique is in essence a metaphor for the experience of this family, as their lives are thrown into disarray. The author guides us through the characters' descent into madness, rage, isolation, depression & hopelessness. Johnston knows his terrain and is able to take us on this journey, a thriller no one would want to experience.
  • Norma R. (Secaucus, NJ)
    Descent is a suspenseful thriller with many scary scenes and an overall sense of doom. The Courtland family is destroyed when their daughter is abducted. The novel follows several story lines during the search for Caitlyn. Her mother, father and brother experience many devastating setbacks. Each family member deals differently with the disappearance of Caitlyn. Her mother withdraws but her brother becomes very aggressive. The location of the novel becomes part of the story. Set in Colorado and the Southwest, the landscape takes on a personality. There are many plot twists which keep the reader interested. I would recommend this book.
  • Janis H. (Willow Street, PA)
    What If?
    "Descent" speaks to all members of a family who have lost a child. Whether or not Tim Johnston purposefully set the horrific action in the pristine setting of the Continental Divide to illustrate the corresponding violence in nature and man, he captures the loneliness and the helplessness that the Courtland family experiences as they come to terms with Caitlin's disappearance.

    If only the beautifully written passages of the landscape, the crime, and the chase had not been preceded by the confusing style in the beginning of the book, I would have given it a 5. That said, it is a good read.
  • Diana J. (Highland Falls, NY)
    Family in the grips of a nightmare
    Caitlin, her brother Sean, and their parents are thrown into a nightmare every family fears. Caitlin is abducted, leaving her brother Sean injured by the side of the road.
    Very few clues, no explanation as to why she was taken. No ransom demand, no witnesses, nothing.

    Thus spirals her family into a state of living without living. Will the family survive her disappearance? Will the parents' marriage survive? Each of the characters deals with its own set of emotions, the most prevalent of which is guilt. Guilt she got taken. Guilt they allowed her (age 18) to go for a run. Her brother's guilt that he was unable to save her. The parents' marriage starts to fracture. Months go by. In the meantime, we meet Caitlin with her captor and see the nightmare she is living, separate, but connected to her family's nightmare.

    It's a page turner and shows good character development as the story goes along. Kept my interest. The only fault I'd assign is that I would have liked to have known what happened once they all got back together...what's the next chapter?
  • Gail L. (Cypress, TX)
    Difficult read
    The last half of the book is great! I had some difficulties with the first half. I usually enjoy reading stories told from the perspectives of different characters, but this book was a bit choppy.
    Although the focus of the story is the daughter, the story is told by the men...and they all smoke! Consequently, I did not relate to the characters.
    I think the author writes very well...he puts words together beautifully. It is a good story but I did find it dark. I would not recommend this book to my reading friends.
  • Liz B. (Fairview, TX)
    An Emotional Read
    Descent is a psychological family study for the first half then picks up speed to become a true 'movie' thriller by the end. I found the beginning to be a bit slow and had to adjust to the chapters alternating between various characters. This is, overall, a well-written novel that tugs at the heartstrings while keeping a gritty, tough facade. Excellent character development keeps the reader turning pages to the satisfying conclusion. This book would be excellent for a book club.

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