An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
I am so glad to be done with this book. Seriously, I hated it. I know hate is a strong word, and maybe I was just hungry while reading, but I had a seething rage towards this book. I have never been so disappointed by a book, at least not since high school. So let's dive in.
Descent is about a family who's daughter goes missing while they vacation in Colorado. It's marketed as a thriller and this is what made me want to read it as written on the back of the book: Written with a precision that captures every emotion, every moment of fear, as each member of the family searches for answers, Descent races like an avalanche toward its heart-pounding conclusion.
If the plot is supposed to be an avalanche, then it has to be the slowest avalanche on record. Like, one you could easily walk away from.
There was nothing heart pounding, thrilling, or precise about this book. It was slow, overstuffed, and just down right boring. It was also annoyingly vague. The area of Colorado they're in isn't mentioned until the very end, which annoyed the hell out of me since I LOVE books that take place in Colorado since I enjoy recognizing the names used. Half the characters didn't have names or if they did the name was hardly used so I forgot it. In what I believe was an attempt to sound literary, Johnston kept referring to the main characters as "the boy" "the man" "the girl, etc., which drove me up the wall. It was pretentious, confusing, and it made it so I didn't feel a deep connection to any of the characters.
On that note, I didn't like any of the characters, with the exception of Caitlin, who's role in the novel was far to small unfortunately. She was interesting, smart, and I kept wanting to know more about her. The rest of the characters were unlikeable and none of them felt real. Johnston stuffed in so many details around them but none of them actually formed a cohesive character. And he'd throw in these random characters who didn't seem to have any purpose except to stir up drama. It made reading this book extremely difficult when there was no one I really wanted to root for.
The plot was all over the place, jumping through space and time. There was a common thread, but overall it just couldn't keep my interest. I thought this book would be about the search for Caitlin, an intense mystery with danger around every corner. Instead it was about angst. Seriously, that's what 95 percent of the book is, just the characters dealing with their angst. There's nothing thrilling about it.
There are some parts worth reading, thus the rating I gave it. The sections from Caitlin's perspective are really good. I didn't want to stop reading those and was frustrated whenever the perspective would switch back to Sean. The last hundred pages were pretty good as well, because that was where all the action was. That section is where the book could be called a thriller, though elements of it were still lacking.
The biggest thing I don't understand about this book is how Billy went from being the ultimate scumbag to the hero that saves the day. Seriously, the Billy of the last hundred pages was very different than the character we had gotten to know through the rest of the book. His character arc made no sense at all and it felt like a cheap way to throw a twist into the story. I liked that he saved the day because I enjoy redemption arcs, but at the same time it was cheap and it tainted an otherwise decent climax.
There are people who probably will like this book. I could see some of the people from my English classes liking it because they have rather pretentious tastes, if I may say so. Me, I hated it. Absolutely hated. It wasn't what I was promised and I hate being lied to.
Final rating: 1.5 stars out of 5, for Caitlin and the climax. But they can't save this book. I wouldn't recommend it, lest you descend (see what I did there?) into a seething hatred like I did.