There is some beautiful writing here, some interesting characters. What bothered me as I read, in two long sessions over two days, were the minute detThere is some beautiful writing here, some interesting characters. What bothered me as I read, in two long sessions over two days, were the minute details applied to literally everything. For example, if two characters were driving and passed a little kid on a sidewalk (jut a peripheral, side character of no consequence whatsoever), then there would be three long sentences about the kid picking up a leaf from the sidewalk…I am not even sure if there was a kid like this. It's just an example of what I think was over-writing.
That said, the scenery, the setting comes alive in DESCENT. It has a nice plot twist at the end, though maybe it's a little too neat the way it works out. More on the psycho kidnapper would have been a welcome respite from the boy's smoking.
Lots of cigarettes in this novel. Too many goddamn cigarettes. (As a creative writing teacher, I forbid my students from writing about cigarettes because it gets tiresome, and can seem like a writer's pointless crutch.)
The central female character was not developed in any real way. Neither was the mother, really. Note to male novelists: female readers love it when male writers can write women well. Female writers notice when the female characters are undeveloped.
The epithets applied to some characters (the boy, the young man) got confusing and irritating. How about using their names? There were also strange, interjected passages that might have been dreams or imagined mini-scenes or…I gave up trying to figure out the italicized parts near the end. Most dialogue was untagged, as well, which sometimes is okay, and sometimes just seems like an unjust punishment.
Despite the deft, third person omniscient narration, little attention was paid to the imprisoned girl's thoughts. Caitlin was a flat character.
Male characters got much more attention. but it should have felt more balanced.
Still, this is quite a beautiful book. A good read, if quiet. Stylistically, it can be a bit much, a bit overdone and annoying....more
I read this book fast and enjoyed it. I read it because I know people who've been through severe depression and hospitalization for SI and SIB. That sI read this book fast and enjoyed it. I read it because I know people who've been through severe depression and hospitalization for SI and SIB. That said, I wonder if this novel almost glorifies the experience of hospitalization, turning it into a cutesy anecdote? This hospital (portrayed in this novel) is full of sunny, cute characters--no one dangerous, no one who screams all night; there are no fights. That's why it's not like real life. The portrayal of depression and anxiety is spot-on; the hospital experience may not be. Of course, it's great that this novel lightens the stigma attached to hospitalization (although no, the novel is not funny), and I am glad that the main character says he doesn't want to return to the hospital, but otherwise, it seems like a fun little vacation from real life. My main criticism (as a writer/editor) is that the main character becomes this smooth player in hospital, and gets the girl and makes out his room, and that's all so unrealistic. Oh well--we must have sex and romance and intrigue, right? This is a pleasant read and probably a good thing for teens to read, overall....more
I know this is an Oprah pick (sometimes she picks them well--most of the time she picks them well), but I just think it's overrated. Maybe it's becausI know this is an Oprah pick (sometimes she picks them well--most of the time she picks them well), but I just think it's overrated. Maybe it's because I read a translation, but I found the language flat, choppy, and devoid of life. Yes, there were some interesting philosophical points raised, but the story had no resolution; it just ended. Unsatisfying, unresolved--although maybe that's the point....more
One of my creative writing students encouraged me to read John Green. I must have been living under a rock (or just busy writing my own books) not toOne of my creative writing students encouraged me to read John Green. I must have been living under a rock (or just busy writing my own books) not to have paid attention to him before! The titles were vaguely familiar but I knew nothing of the actual work. For lack of a better word: wow. Hyper-intelligent, profound, thought-provoking, timely...The Fault in Our Stars is everything.
Some may argue (and no doubt have) that "real teenagers don't talk this way" or think such deep thoughts about infinity and poetry and death. Because I work with teenagers and have been one myself, I can only respond, "How can you speak for all teenagers?" and "Shouldn't we HOPE that more teenagers are like this?"
I am not sure what the take-away message is (I just finished the book an hour ago and have to let it settle in my brain a bit), but I think it has to do with how even small, quiet lives can have impact. The point is to have positive impact on even a few people. Those who die young don't get the chance to do their life's work...and we must grapple with "What is the point of life?" when young people die from cruel, undeserved illnesses.
My only real objection to the novel has to do with the lame and unnecessary (in terms of plot development) sex scene. As a YA writer myself, I struggle with the "sex in YA" question. Here, I don't even know why it was included if it wasn't going to be addressed in more detail (in terms of emotional impact, not mechanics). But that aside, this is a seriously good book.
I hope my own teenager can appreciate and learn from it. It's desperately impressive and I am off to read more John Green....more