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The Descendants

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  14,990 ratings  ·  2,039 reviews
Narrated in a bold, fearless, unforgettable voice and set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii, The Descendants is a stunning debut novel about an unconventional family forced to come together and re-create its own legacy.

Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors were financially and culturally progressive
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2007)
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The other day my friend was saying to me that she recently saw The Descendants and thought it was a pretty dumb name for a film which has nothing to do with the protagonist’s descendants. I have not seen it yet, but I thought maybe the title was more overtly related to the book, a relation which then became lost in its translation to film. Regardless, it does fit the book rather nicely—and it is not about the protagonist’s descendants, either, but about his being a descendant: a descendant of Ha ...more
Have you ever been sitting somewhere, life moving all around you, and in that moment you are completely aware? You can see the pieces of who you were yesterday falling to the ground as today begins to fill in the holes and all you can manage to do is sit there and watch it dissolve. And as much as you know you need to get up, to start assimilating, you find yourself repeating under your breath, "How did I get here? How is this my life?" This is that juncture actualized.

Matt isn't the best father

I'm not sure where this author came from, but look out! Her characters are in your FACE--funny and scary--with an emotional swirl in the background that makes it hard to breathe.

The premise, which is almost beside the point, is that Matthew King's wife is in a coma. And he has to rise up to the occasion, and be a parent in a way he never was before. You realize, along with him, that these wild, angry girls never really had a parent of any kind.

Characters--daughters and fathers--talk to e
A story set in Hawaii.

Matthew is a very rich lawyer; he’s rotten rich mainly because of heritages he got that date back to his grand grandmother princess Kekipi: she married a banker who was her assets manager; now Matt has plenty of properties to sell; and yet he prefers using the money of his own job: ”I don’t like heritages”.

She was seven years younger than Matt. They met 20 years ago. They got married, they had two daughters ….but now she’s in a hospital, in a coma; she had a racing-boa
Beth Bonini
I saw the film last night, and read the novel today. Couldn't put it down.

I like that order to things: film, and then novel. If I've liked the characters/story (in the film), I like to go to the book because I'm sure to find more detail and more emotional analysis/insight there. And that was certainly the case with this novel. While the film was really faithful to the novel, OF COURSE there is always going to just be MORE of everything in a book. What you particularly get more of in this book is
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
So I may or may not have read this while I was at work over the last month...and I liked it, but I'm not sure if I would have finished it had I not been sitting around at work doing nothing. It was well written and kept my interest even though I've seen the movie and knew what was going to happen. Probably the only thing that kept me from fully enjoying this book was that sometimes the way the dad spoke about his daughters made me uncomfortable. That's about it.
You know, it's not until I start reading contemporary fiction that I remember I don't especially enjoy it. Not to be simplistic, but if there isn't a dead body, a spaceship, or magic, I'm not the immediate target market for your book.

I picked this one up, though, because it continues my theme of reading books set in Hawai'i, and because the film based on the book has been released.

It took more than half the book to sympathize with the character--he doesn't talk about love that he has for his w
Neal Sanders
At heart, all novelists are dreamers. We concoct vivid stories from fleeting, overheard comments and turn complex ideas into 85,000 words of captivating prose. As we write, we envision other people absorbing our words and finding pleasure or guidance in them. If we are honest, we cherish the idea that our stories might reach tens of thousands – or hundreds of thousands - of readers. And, if we truly dream big, we envision our words finding their way onto the screen so that millions of people who ...more
Susan Johnson
I was hesitant to read this book. They made a movie with George Clooney based on it and I thought it was going to be some romantic, Hollywood drivel. Boy was I ever wrong. This is a layered story of loss, acceptance, discovery and those first few steps to a new life.
Matt King has had everything handed to him in life. The descendant of a Hawaiian princess and a white missionary, he is the controlling partner of a family trust overseeing a great deal of Hawaiian land. He has made his life on his
Ann Collette
After seeing the movie, I decided to read the book, in order to better understand character motivation. The movie is surprisingly faithful to the structure of the book but the character of the wife is fleshed out much better in the novel. Matt King, the titular head of an extended family with traces of Hawaiian blood, is in charge of deciding what developer to sell the family's pristine Hawaiian land to. Between trying to make that decision (mostly by avoiding it) and focusing too much on his wo ...more
This family melodrama set on Hawaii is an impressively brave, charming and intelligent novel. The themes that it sets out to tackle are tough, no doubt about it - dying, parenting, adolescence, infidelity - yet it handles them with irrepressible warmth, humour and dignity without ever seeming fake or cliched.

The characters are each in turn so hostile, warm, selfish, caring, vengeful, forgiving, idiotic, intelligent and a hundred other things beside that I found them utterly believable and ultima
Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Jonathan Davis

Most everyone thinks Matthew King is one of the luckiest men in Hawaii. His great-grandfather was a missionary who married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and owner (with his cousins) of one of the largest pieces of undeveloped real estate in the islands. But that is not his focus these days. His wife Joanie lies in a coma after a boating accident and he is left trying to deal with his two daughters – 10-year-old Scottie and 17-year
Although the movie put George Clooney in my head the whole time I was reading, I really could see him in the role of Matt King. (Loved the nod to him on page 44 when Scottie, the 10 year old daughter, was described as wearing a Mrs. Clooney t-shirt!) I am looking forward to seeing the adaptation. I found humor and affection in Matt's irreverent style of parenting. (Their family situation might seem unconventional and judgement-worthy, but truthfully there is at least a hint of both the marital s ...more
I really liked this. I saw the movie before reading the book, which I hate doing because I feel the book gets ruined. I'm always ready to be "at the good parts" the movie showed.

But, in my true fashion I cared for the book more than the movie, but both were great. I liked how the booked delved into the characters of Sid and Joannie. Sid seems so random in the movie, but his character actually makes a lot of sense. This might be harsh, but... I had abosolutely no simpathy for Joannie's character.
Perrin Pring
The only things I knew about this book when I started it were that it was a movie, and the movie was set in Hawaii.

That being said, The Descendants surprised me greatly by becoming one of the best books I've read all year (and I've read a few books).

I'm not going to dwell too much on the plot. The reason to read this book is because of the characters. They are dysfunctional, flawed, lovable, laughable and larger than life. My favorite character is, by far, the protagonist's, Matt King's, 10-yea
This is a hard book to read, and ironically it's because the language is so easy. Matt King, the protagonist, isn't trying to impress you with his intelligence or make beautiful words. He's just trying to make sense of his life -- his wife is in a coma in the hospital, and his two girls, Scottie and Alex... are acting like children. Or teenagers. He's a father without any guidebook or external support, and he's telling himself that things are going to be okay, and his wife is going to come out o ...more
Having the desire to read the source material for what was my favorite movie from 2011, I picked up The Descendants and began reading. One of my first impressions, and one that lasted with me throughout the book, was how amazingly close the Oscar-winning screenplay was to the book. Shockingly close. "Anyone who can command+c and command+v can write a screenplay," I thought.

And then I started to appreciate the real beauty in the book that I was reading. Much like the movie, it is heartbreakingly
**This review has spoilers**
Overall, I thought the book was ok. It’s not one I would have chosen to buy: it was a book club book.
On the positive side, I thought the characterisation was strong. I liked Sid and Scottie, particularly.
On the bad side, the book isn’t particularly well-written, and the plotting is lazy. The writing style reminded me, overwhelmingly, of books by Judy Blume and Paula Danziger and at times it was hard to really believe I was meant to be reading the thoughts and feeling
Elizabeth A
This story explores themes of family, love, loss, land and legacy. Matt King has a lot going on: his 10 year old daughter is out of control, his 17 year old daughter is doing who knows what with who knows whom, his family is sitting on the largest piece of Hawaiian real estate not bulldozed into strip malls and luxury hotels and everyone wants a piece of that deal, and his wife was in a boating accident and has been in a coma for almost a month. Oh, and he learns that his wife has been having an ...more
The concise prose exposes the raw terrain of strained family relationships brought into new relief by the wife/mother's debilitating accident.
Such a touching book. For those of us who live here in Hawaii and know the social and political scene -- this book was right on!
Victoria  (ChrisToria2027)
I only picked this us as I had seen the movie and it was super cheap when I was away from home without a book but I'm really glad that I did as I throughly enjoyed it. If you have seen the movie then you will know the plot of the book as they adapted it pretty closely. We follow Matt King as he and his family come to terms with an accident that has left his wife in a coma and the uncovering of a secret that she had.

I thought the writing of this novel was really great and enjoyed the both the ch

Definitivamente, es mejor ver la peli primero y leer después: la experiencia de lectura post-película enriquece lo que uno ha visto antes en vez de salir del cine odiando al director o al guionista por mochar algún fragmento que uno considera importante o relevante, por tomarse una libertad o hacer un cambio con el que no se esté de acuerdo.

En este caso, si bien la novela no es infinitamente más profunda que la peli, la experiencia es un poco mejor porque si bien el voiceover de Matt King e
Robert E.  Kennedy Library
Seeing the movie preview prompted me to seek out this book and quickly read it before it left the Palm. The novel, based on a short story, is Hemmings’ first, and its characters grabbed me from the first page. A distracted, work-obsessed father, Matt King, is forced to take a much more hands-on role with his two daughters when his daredevil wife Elizabeth falls into a coma after a boating accident. I know, it sounds like an after-school special or a soap opera Friday afternoon cliffhanger, but i ...more

Matthew King is a wealthy Hawaiian attorney with roots going back 4 generations. His great grandfather, Edward King, the son of missionaries to Hawaii, chose a different path from his parents. Edward was a successful banker and land developer who had the good fortune to marry a Hawaiian princess who also owned lots of rich Hawaiian land. As a result of his great-grandparents' land wealth, all their descendents, including Matt, have trust funds that keep them very comfortable. Right now the desce
The basis for the movie, this book is almost as good to read as it is to see. Much of the dialogue is taken straight from the book. As always, there are actions in the book that are not used in the screenplay. A couple of these really struck me.

One is the banana game. I'm not going to tell you what it is; you're going to have to read it for yourself. This is something my dad would do.

The other one is the playing with names. This is something I do all the time. Instead of "man o' war," use "minor
Lots of times I've seen movies that were of books I had previously read, but this is the first time I did it backwards (I think). I saw this on the ebookshelf the week before we left for vacation and I was looking for beach reads and thought, why not. Then, I didn't end up reading as much on my trip as I usually do and so came home with it still unread on my kindle. I debated with just returning it, but figured it was short and quick and so I'd just read through it this afternoon.

It was slightly
Matt King is having a big week. His wife Joanie, in an irreversible coma after a boating accident, is being removed from life support, and at the same time, Matt must decide to which developer he will sell the half-billion dollars worth of pristine Kauai property that his family owns as descendants of Hawaiian royalty. As he's trying to figure out how he's going to be the sole parent to his daughters, 10-year-old Scottie and 17-year-old Alex, and help them say goodbye to their mother, he learns ...more
A light and easy read; mildly interesting and pleasantly paced. I wanted to read the book because Jim Rash wrote the screenplay for the movie. I have not seen the movie. I would have liked to have known more about Matt; what type of lawyer he was, why he was so disconnected from just about everyone. Upon the advent of his wife's death, he seems to be meeting his friends and family for the first time. I'm not sure how I feel about his character. He seems to let life happen to him. Now that I'm fi ...more
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I'm the author of The Descendants, House of Thieves, and the Possibilities (May 13, 2014) Visit my website:
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