Descent by Tim Johnston

Descent is about the devastating consequences for a family after a kidnapping. “At what point does a family stop searching? At what point will a girl stop fighting for her life?” (Amazon). The “descent” into madness, isolation and survival is the core of the story. 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, the author, knows this territory and the flawed characters that survive in spite of hostile circumstances.

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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. Review also found on Book Browse, reviewed by me.

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