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Descent

Descent

Written by Tim Johnston

Narrated by Xe Sands and R. C. Bray


Descent

Written by Tim Johnston

Narrated by Xe Sands and R. C. Bray

ratings:
3.5/5 (36 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Released:
Jan 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781622315048
Format:
Audiobook

Description

From the day Caitlin vanishes the lives of her family members are irrevocably altered, each assuming blame for that day's tragic events. As the initial days of hope are replaced by weeks of anxiety and despair, they find themselves increasingly isolated, each wondering: Is she still alive? Will we ever know what happened?

Pursuing every angle and refusing to surrender the belief that his daughter is still alive, Caitlin's father struggles through the mountainous terrain, prodding both his son and the local authorities to keep up the search. It is through a most unlikely source, however, that they finally find an answer, in a climax that is stunning in both its execution and resolution.

Written with precision and elegance, Johnston captures characters' emotions, divergent thoughts, and moments of bleak loneliness as they search for answers. Descent is both a taut and gripping thriller and a work of outstanding literary merit, a combination of great story and beautiful writing that is certain to garner comparisons with the work of such bestselling writers as Cormac McCarthy and Dennis Lehane.

Released:
Jan 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781622315048
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Tim Johnston, a native of Iowa City, is the author of The Current and the New York Times bestseller Descent, as well as a young adult novel, Never So Green, and the story collection Irish Girl, winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction.


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Reviews

What people think about Descent

3.6
36 ratings / 80 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (1/5)
    I read some of the national publication reviews for this novel, and they had written things such as “super-charged”, “compelling”, and “addictive thriller”, and after reading this novel, I’m wondering if these critics read the same book that I did. The novel that I read was the complete opposite of these things. The situation in the novel is interesting. College student, Caitlyn, is hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her brother, and she is kidnapped. It starts off with a compelling idea, but what follows is so utterly boring, mundane, not remotely compelling or riveting. After that, it’s basically her family members in the aftermath not doing a whole helluva lot. Her mom goes back home with her brother. Her dad stays around in Colorado where he is just kind of passing the time, not actively doing much to find his daughter. If there was some active investigation in finding her, I would find it more interesting, but that was not the case.If you’re reading this novel with the goal of curing insomnia, then I would suggest you read it. But if you’re trying to be entertained or engrossed, then this novel falls way off the mark. I couldn’t even make it to the end of the novel, and I try hard to finish reading everything that I start.Carl Alves – author of The Invocation
  • (3/5)
    During the Courtland family vacation in Colorado, 18-year-old Caitlin is kidnapped when she accepts a ride with a stranger to get help for her injured brother. The rest of the family doesn't give up on finding her but time goes by without any sighting of her. Grant, her father, stays in Colorado, while her mother, Angela, returns to Wisconsin and tries to return to her former life. The majority of the book deals with the family trying to deal with Caitlin's absence and gets a bit long. I loved the descriptions of the Rocky Mountain area.
  • (5/5)
    Riveting story of a teen girl's abduction and her family's attempts to find her. Grim and realistic, the author tells less about the actual recovery (page-turning) and more about the impact of the crime -- psychologically and literally -- upon the remaining parents and brother. As a bonus, the book is well-written: think Cormac McCarthy meets Hemingway. Highly recommended who want some quality with their suspense.
  • (4/5)
    Read it - the writing is so, so good. It's billed as a literary thriller. Most of the way through, it's more literary than thriller.At the beginning Something Dramatic happens. Until you get to the last 50 pages or so, the story unfolds from the perspective of the four main characters and covers how they respond to that event individually and relationally over the 2+ years that pass. The character development and evolution beautifully and authentically captures how complicated people and emotions are. It's really a powerful testimony to love, hope and family, but not at all in a treacly way.The last 50 pages delivers on the thriller. It seriously put a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. The actual resolution ended a tad too abruptly and tied things up a little too pat of a way, but it was a small price to pay.
  • (4/5)
    It has been a couple years since I have been as riveted to a book as I was to DESCENT. Problem, though: it wasn't riveting until around page 130. Caitlin was a high school track star and will now attend college on a track scholarship. But she is abducted, first. After that are descriptions of how her mother, father, and brother each go on living with this for nearly three years. Chapters are short. No problem. But the chapters also seem scattered, not chronological. Also, throughout this book Caitlin's brother, Sean, is referred to as "the boy" almost always. This is annoying. Such constant impersonal usage in seemingly personal chapters is confusing, and the repetitiousness of that phrase makes it ridiculous.About halfway through the book, though, the suspense becomes so great, DESCENT is unputdownable.For this excellent suspense, DESCENT would rate five stars. But the several uninteresting chapters in its first half and its ridiculous constant use of "the boy" downgrades it to four. Why not three? Because its second half is truly stupendous.I won this book from the publisher through librarything.com.
  • (4/5)
    Impossible to put down, this unwinds like a slow burning fever nightmare. Tough subject handled in a great literary style. Love the Colorado mountain wilderness setting.
  • (5/5)
    On a family vacation in Colorado, an eighteen-year-old girl goes for a run on a deserted mountain road, accompanied by her younger brother on a mountain bike, when the worst thing happens. The boy is left injured, and the girl has disappeared, plummeting her family into a nightmare.This book was so much more than the escapist thriller I was expecting. It never goes in the expected direction. Johnston's writing style is spare but evocative, and he does a remarkable job of breathing life into the wild mountain setting and all the characters, large and small, allowing the reader to fully inhabit this book's world. While the subject matter is undeniably rough--there is rape, there is minor animal abuse--the story itself has a quality of myth, addressing themes of fate and chance and what it means to be a hero. This book enthralled me, and I'm sure it will stay with me for a long time.
  • (3/5)
    I picked this up for a reading group. It had been on my back burner for a long time. The premise of the story is that Caitlin and her brother Sean are exercising in the mountains alone on a family vacation. While on the mountain something bad happens and only Sean makes it down. What happened to Caitlin is the question that drives the destruction of her family. For a thriller this ended up being a lot less thrilling than I expected. The novel is populated by characters with little redeeming values making bad choices. The part that I cared the most about, what happened to Caitlin was actually the smallest part of the book. The ending was good but it took a lot of work to get there. The characters were hard to keep track of. For instance instead of calling Sean by his name he is sometimes referred to as the boy. For the first part of the book I wasn't even sure who was being talked about. While I am glad I finally got around to reading it I doubt I will remember very much about it.
  • (4/5)
    There are certain books that might actually end up making better movies, or TV shows than novels. In my mind this book is one of them, with certain scenes needing a certain photographed or captured moment to illustrate them properly. That is not to say that this is a bad book, because it most certainly isn't. It is however, a book that required for me, a great deal of patience. The suspense I had read about in other people's reviews did not hit me until about 100 pages in, when I really delved into the characters lives, and what was happening to what had once been a happy, albeit dysfunctional family.Without spoilers I will tell you that the end of this novel gripped me, the words wrapping themselves around me and encasing me in them. The pages flipped rapidly and I found myself almost anxious to figure out what would happen next, the book held tightly in my hands.The characters, I discovered had become people that I cared about. Fully fleshed out, and entirely flawed they had come with their own sets of problems, amplified by the trauma of what occurred in the mountains. They were not perfect. There was no perfection in this family, not even in Caitlin but yet that was what I continued to like about them. Their flaws. This book felt very real to me, the situation unfortunately is one that does arise in life, as we constantly hear news stories about children who have gone missing, teenagers abducted. It was obvious to me that the author had attempted to draw me in with the familiarity of the situation and succeeded in doing so. This was not a book I started out loving, apprehensive of the subject matter and whether it could be dealt with sensitively enough. It was handled beautifully, by the end, and horrifically (in a good way) at other turns. It is one I recommend to anyone who loves crime fiction, suspense or who is looking for something with a bit of familiarity but something that also manages to be unique.
  • (2/5)
    I read the entire book only because I was curious about the ending. The sections seemed to be very disjointed and it was difficult to figure out who was in each scene and why. The ending, which included the evolution of Billie, probably the book's most interesting character, was good, although somewhat unbelievable.
  • (3/5)
    I found the beginning and end of the book thrilling, but was bored silly by the middle. I got the general gist of the family falling apart after the daughter/sister disappears, but there seemed to be way too much detail about their everyday existence. Also, I didn't like the beginning of each chapter - I had trouble figuring out which character was "talking." Maybe that's just me.
  • (4/5)
    Gripping. Thrilling. Page turner. All true for this novel. I definitely found the book to be confusing from time to time, jumping between characters and narratives, however the novel was so gripping I powered through until it made sense again and continued on. It is a story about a daughter that goes missing, the struggle to find her, and the emotion and suffering her family goes through. It can be an emotional roller coaster, but worth reading!
  • (3/5)
    A family of four is on vacation the summer before their daughter leaves for college. While out on a run, the son is severely injured and the daughter is abducted.I enjoyed this book but I could not say I loved it nor did I find it a compelling read. Each chapter describes the story as it happens to the individual characters in the book and perhaps this was the problem for me. I never really felt a connection to the characters. While I wanted to find out what happened, I didn't feel any emotional investment in the story.
  • (4/5)
    It took me a while to get into this book, but when it got going, I thought it was really good. I was reading the last few chapters with my breath held! The only complaint I would make is that the italic sections of the books are really hard to read, but overall I really enjoyed this book.
  • (5/5)
    This was a riveting thriller of a book. I could not stop turning the pages. It is the story of a brother and sister, Sean and Caitlin. They go on a trip with their family to visit the mountains in Colorado before Caitlin starts college in the fall. While the siblings are out on a run, an accident occurs and Caitlin never makes it off the mountain. Caitlin has been taken and her family remains behind desperately searching for her. Years pass and her family suffers terribly. What follows is the story of the family left behind. It is also the story of Caitlin. The author allows us bits and pieces of clues that leave us frantically reading to find out more.Written in a way that captures every emotion, every moment of fear, as each member of the family searches for answers. Descent also has a heart racing ending.This was an excellent book. I received a complimentary copy as part of Librarything Early Reviewers.
  • (3/5)
    Johnston skillfully conveys the utter anguish felt by a familly when their teenage daughter disappears after a car accident where her younger brother was left seriously injured. Then comes guilt, blame, and the unravelling of their lives. It's an unpleasant story, strangely denying any sympathy for the remaining family especially in the early stages of the book. I am personally well-acquainted with the Canadian Rockies yet Johnston's Rockies are completely foreign: there was nothing familiar in his setting. The chapters jump around a lot, making the flow erratic as the reader must re-adjust every few pages to determine whose story is being told and at what point in time. But despite that, Johnston has a way with words and portrays events in perfect detail. Regarding a rating, however, I'm torn: I disliked the story even though it was well-written.
  • (4/5)
    This is a page-turning great book. Following the upturns lives of a mother, father and brother after the alleged kidnapping of the daughter while on a family vacation in the mountains. Uniquely, this book's primary characters are male. While the mother's voice is found in the book, it is refreshing to see the masculine side of such a tragedy. The emotions (or lack there of) and the actions that the younger brother and father work through are an interesting perspective.
  • (4/5)
    Descent is an awesome read! It tells the story of the Courtland family trying to put their lives back together following the disappearance of their daughter while on a family vacation the disappearance affects all of the family members differently and the book is remarkable in it's depiction of a family struggling with grief and loss. The writing is exquisite , the characters and their struggles beautifully and realistically described. Descent is just amazing
  • (5/5)
    I really loved this book. I loved the characters, the plot, the ending, fantastic ending. It really kept me reading and interested. That is saying a lot because I am a very busy mother of 3. Very interested and action packed. Not your normal book either, definitely a unique topic, not something you read every day. Highly recommend.
  • (5/5)
    Descent is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. Its the story of a family that falls apart after 18 year old Caitlin is abducted while she is on a run with her brother Sean. The story is told through alternating voices and alternating time periods. Its a bit confusing at first to figure out who is talking and if they are in the past or present but once you get into the story, the skipping around is a very effective way to tell the story and get all sides of how the loss of one person in the family is affecting the entire family unit. Its a thrilling page turner. I look forward to future books from this author.
  • (4/5)
    There are certain books that might actually end up making better movies, or TV shows than novels. In my mind this book is one of them, with certain scenes needing a certain photographed or captured moment to illustrate them properly. That is not to say that this is a bad book, because it most certainly isn't. It is however, a book that required for me, a great deal of patience. The suspense I had read about in other people's reviews did not hit me until about 100 pages in, when I really delved into the characters lives, and what was happening to what had once been a happy, albeit dysfunctional family.Without spoilers I will tell you that the end of this novel gripped me, the words wrapping themselves around me and encasing me in them. The pages flipped rapidly and I found myself almost anxious to figure out what would happen next, the book held tightly in my hands.The characters, I discovered had become people that I cared about. Fully fleshed out, and entirely flawed they had come with their own sets of problems, amplified by the trauma of what occurred in the mountains. They were not perfect. There was no perfection in this family, not even in Caitlin but yet that was what I continued to like about them. Their flaws. This book felt very real to me, the situation unfortunately is one that does arise in life, as we constantly hear news stories about children who have gone missing, teenagers abducted. It was obvious to me that the author had attempted to draw me in with the familiarity of the situation and succeeded in doing so. This was not a book I started out loving, apprehensive of the subject matter and whether it could be dealt with sensitively enough. It was handled beautifully, by the end, and horrifically (in a good way) at other turns. It is one I recommend to anyone who loves crime fiction, suspense or who is looking for something with a bit of familiarity but something that also manages to be unique.
  • (3/5)
    I received The Descent by Tim Johnston from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. The book follows a family in the aftermath of their daughter's kidnapping during a run on vacation in Colorado. The story jumps back and forth between family members and chronicles their struggles as their lives are turned upside down by the tragedy. I did not care for the writing style used in the novel. I felt it was hard to follow and I was frequently confused about who was speaking and what was happening in the plot. The first half of the book was difficult to get into, but towards the middle it does pick up and gets interesting in the end.
  • (4/5)
    A daughter is abducted while on a run in the Rocky Mountains and her disappearance ripples through her family as they each react to life without her. The family separates, and each member suffers in his own way as the years go by without clues or closure.The writing is masterful and the descriptions of the mountains that form the bulk of the setting are wonderful, communicating their beauty, magnificence, mystery, and danger. The narrative moves between characters in a stately and sorrowful way, evoking vast sympathy for these lost family members. Each of their journeys is meaningful and heartbreaking.The book is relentlessly compelling and unsettling. There are scenes that are as suspenseful and dread inducing as any I have read. A remarkable book.
  • (5/5)
    There are spoilers below!I received a copy of this book via Librarything for a review and Wow, am I glad I was one of the lucky recipients! What a good story!A family heads up into the mountains of Colorado on vacation. The daughter, Caitlyn and son, Sean, both teenagers, go for a run/bike ride one morning but only Sean comes back, in an ambulance. There's a car accident that injures Sean and Caitlyn is abducted by the driver of the vehicle when he offers to take her to get help. She disappears and the family are devastated. While Sean recovers, the search parties comb the mountains for Caitlyn. The story delves into the repercussions to the relationships of the remaining family members, how it changes them individually and as a family over the next couple of years. Grant, the father, stays on in Colorado, living with an older man, the father of the Sherrif, while he continues to stay on top of the search and investigation. He clashes with the old man's other son, Billy, who is spoiled, selfish, disrespectful and resentful. Angela, the mother, returns to Wisconsin with Sean who returns to school after his injuries heal. Angela is devastated and can't cope with life. She retreats emotionally and Sean leaves school and wanders around the countryside, alone, doing odd jobs for cash to survive. After a bit of trouble, he and his father awkwardly reunite and begin to find their way back. But it's also a story of survival and courage. (spoilers here on in)We discover that Caitlyn is alive and chained in a small shack, used and abused by the man that took her. We find out that she does what she has to in order to survive. A chance encounter by Billy with a man in a bar sparks something in this man who has lived a wasted life. Billy ends up being the hero after a chase and deadly encounter on a snowy night on a mountain and Caitlyn escapes by taking drastic measures. I had to reread the encounter between Billy and the kidnapper because I didn't know what it was that made Billy go after him but realized that during the conversation, the stranger knew one or two details about the abduction that Billy realizes wasn't publicized at the time. There isn't really any reason why Billy, a man who has been depicted as completely selfish suddenly decides to try to find out if this man did kidnap Caitlyn. But then again, his father had just died and perhaps that made him want to prove to his dad and brother and, finally, to himself that he still had some decency left. I thought the book was well written and well paced. The family dynamics and the after effects of Caitlyn's disappearance on each of them weighed hard and affected them in different ways. The conclusion made you wonder what the effects of the past few years would do to the family going forward but going into that would only drag out the ending of the book. Loved it!
  • (4/5)
    Marketed as a mystery / thriller, Descent is Johnston's first adult novel and is set largely in Rocky Mountain National Park. The book generally follows a family recovering from a tragedy - or if not recovering, merely living with it - and is vaguely reminiscent of a Joyce Carol Oates novel. The family aspects, although not completely explored, were well done and probably stand out as better writing in my mind than the thriller aspects. Some confusion does show through in his writing at times. Some chapters are italicized, and not always for the same reason. Also, he often refers to one of the two main characters as "the boy" or "the girl," but then calls them by name, or someone else "the boy" in another chapter. Those things aside, the writing is solid and I thought that the scenes written from Sean's point of view were especially well done, with only a couple of exceptions. This review is based on an advanced copy and those things may be worked out before final publication so I would not discourage reading it based on those points.A solid start for Tim Johnston's first adult novel. I hope to see more of him though maybe more on the family drama side than the thriller side of the book world.
  • (4/5)
    I won a copy of this novel through the Early Reviewers scheme and for that reason I kept going with it when I might otherwise have given up. It is a very good book, but extremely bleak and I read a couple of chapters a day before I felt an urgent need to read something happier. The writing itself is excellent and spare.Caitlin, 18, and her brother Sean, 16, go up into the mountains for Caitlin to run and Sean accompanies her on a bike. Sean is run down and injured and Caitlyn goes down the mountain with the driver where she can get phone reception and call for help for him. She is not seen again, although we, the reader, gradually learn what has become of her. I found the depiction of the relationship between Caitlin and her brother realistic and touching. Sean's character is the one we focus on the most in the book as he bears the burden of his mother blaming him for failing to protect Caitlin. Both he and his father display loyalty and honour and at times a reckless disregard for their own safety and comfort. I found the depiction of Angie, the mother, less well-drawn. She is absent for most of the book and there is play made of the fact that she lost a twin to drowning as a child, but the nature of the comparison was lost on me.Slight niggles: the use of "the girl" and "the boy" etc, rather than proper names, was confusing at times. I had to reread a whole chapter once I worked out the girl and boy referred to were in fact the children of Angie's surviving sister. Also, for a while italicized writing indicated the imagined speech of Angie's dead twin, but then other whole chapters were written in italics.Highly recommended, but not if you are felling a bit down to start with.
  • (4/5)
    Caitlyn's family took a vacation out west to have one more outing before Caitlyn started college. As a cross country runner, she wanted to test her mettle in the higher altitude, so she and her brother Sean, went out for a run. While on the run, Sean was hit by a car and Caitlyn disappeared. The story deals with the guilt of those left behind and how a tragedy can break a family apart. Gut-wrenching material but told in a different way. It took me a while to get into the groove of the book because it is told from several voices, but once I got past about page 50, I was hooked. This was an advanced copy from LibraryThing
  • (5/5)
    This book was amazing. It was a little slow and confusing in the beginning with how much it switched between memories and narrators but once you're in it it's so intense I couldn't put it down. I sped through this book. The writing was surprisingly lyrical in many places despite how dark the plot was. I would recommend this to everyone. Definitely my favorite book from librarything.
  • (4/5)
    This was quite the captivating read! Thrilling and suspenseful with complex characters and powerful dialogue. It the story of a family vacation gone wrong when the teenage daughter disappears. Lives spiral downward as each family member tries to come to terms with her disappearance. And the questions are.....how long do you keep on searching until you give up? And when do you stop fighting for survival? I think I would have given this book 5 stars however it took me at least 100 pages to get hooked and then I was mesmerized! Haunting and one of those books that I won't forget! I recommend!I won this novel from LibraryThing. Lucky me!
  • (3/5)
    I hate to say this, but Descent was a downer. After a 17-year-old girl is snatched in a remote area in the Colorado Rockies, there seem to be no clues to her whereabouts. The novel follows the subsequent years of each of her family members as they try to cope with the disappearance. The book alternates between points of view, and skips large periods of time rather randomly, and I found myself not all that interested, and wanting to skip through it all for the first 180 pages of the story. However, at this halfway point, things started to pick up and get more interesting as I began to care about the girl and her brother, so the last half of the book was a real page-turner. I do not really enjoy reading about depraved psychopaths and extreme cruelty, so perhaps this book wasn't the best choice for me. It was well-written and the ending held lots of suspense and surprises.