Aug 22, 2015

Descent by Tim Johnston (Unabridged Audio)

This debut novel by noted writer Tim Johnston made a big splash when it came out in January. I immediately added it to my list of books to read this year. The story involves the Courtland family from Wisconsin.  The parents, Grant and Angela, are working through some troubles in their marriage while their daughter Caitlin prepares to start college in a few months and their younger son, Sean, struggles with being overweight and all of the stigma that goes along with that. 

For their family vacation, Caitlin, a competitive runner, chooses the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. so she can condition her body in the rough terrain offered there. Early one morning Caitlin and Sean leave their parents at the motel and set out for the trail. Sean, on a mountain bike and Caitlin on foot, ascend the mountain but decide to veer off of the main trail just a bit.

Back at the motel, Grant and Angela are trying to rekindle their fractured marriage. They receive an urgent call from the local Sheriff explaining that their son has been involved in an accident and is the hospital. When asked about their daughter, Caitlin, the Sheriff is confused and informs them that Sean was found alone and there was no sign of Caitlin.   

My Thoughts:

Tim Johnston doesn't make you wait long for things to start happening in this gripping debut. Right away I had a good grasp on the dynamic of this family so my connection to them came easily. The Courtland family is a likable group although my least favorite family member was Angela. She is not a strong person and when her story was being told through a lot of flashing back to earlier times, it was confusing to me. She not only was dealing with a missing child but still grappling with a tragedy that had happened to her as a teen. 

There is a big sub plot revolving around Grant that kept the story moving and helped to develop Grant's character. At first I thought I knew where that story was going to lead but fortunately, it took another turn, totally removing the predictability factor altogether. Needless to say, that was a welcome surprise. 

When I chose the audio version of this book, I didn't realize the male narrator was R.C. Bray so when I heard that voice I was really happy. Bray was the unforgettable voice of astronaut Mark Watney in THE MARTIAN, one of my favorite audios ever. This was a much different character and he pulled it off brilliantly. I admit, in the beginning I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get the astronaut out of my subconscious, but that turned out not to be a problem at all. He was Grant Courtland, emotionally tortured and heartbroken father. The female narrator, Xe Sands also did a good job but didn't blow me away. Admittedly, I sometimes have difficulty with female narrators, especially during the vulnerable side of a character, so the reason I didn't enjoy her interpretation as much is probably solely on me. 

 The bottom line is I found this to be a great debut novel worthy of the buzz it created. It told a tragic story from different perspectives, allowing the reader to fully understand each character. Is is a perfect book? No, but as a debut I think it was really good and I would recommend it. I enjoyed the audio a lot but I can see where the printed version would also be a great experience. This is not a complicated suspense thriller, it's simply a well-told mystery with great characters. Tim Johnston is now on my radar so I'll be anxiously awaiting his next book. And by the way, look at that cover! I love it! 

Author: Tim Johnston
Narrator: Xe Sands and R.C. Bray
Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Published: January 6, 2015
Length: 11 hrs 31 mins
Source: Purchased (Audible)


  1. I've been meaning to read this one. Read several reviews of it earlier this year. Nice to know that it works well on audio. And I love the cover too!

  2. I absolutely loved this book! I was drawn in on the first page and could not stop reading! I am not a blogger but do read a number of book blogs and have mentioned this book every chance I got! I too, will be waiting for the next book by this author.


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