Author: Ken MacLeod
Released: November 18th 2014
Length: 403 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO FOR THE TRUTH? Ball lightning. Weather balloons. Secret military aircraft. Ryan knows all the justifications for UFO sightings. But when something falls out of the sky on the hills near his small Scottish town, he finds his cynicism can't identify or explain the phenomenon. And in a future where nothing is a secret, where everything is recorded on CCTV or reported online, why can he find no evidence of the UFO, nor anything to shed light on what occurred? Is it the political revolutionaries, is it the government or is it aliens themselves who are creating the cover-up? Or does the very idea of a cover-up hide the biggest secret of all?
Can you imagine a wonderful, light science-fiction novel set in Scotland, with delightful Scottish accents, spaceships (possibly) landing in the moor, and unruly Scottish boys with very wild imaginations? Well guess what, as lovely as it sounds, you don’t have to imagine it, Ken MacLeod already did it for us.
The charm of this lovely science fiction work is twofold. A part of it is certainly the setting, especially for those of us who are mostly used to reading American fiction. Scotland is very much alive in this book, brought to life by someone who knows (and apparently loves) its every rock. Ryan’s best friend Calum, as well as many other characters, speaks with this lovely Scottish accent that was transferred beautifully in writing. Another huge part of this book’s charm stems from MacLeod’s wry sense of humor, the laugh-out-loud variety, and a lot of it.
Set in a very near, very believable future, Descent is part super-light sci-fi, part coming of age story, part political thriller and part conspiracy theory. It follows Ryan through various stages of his life, all at least somewhat affected by the strange event in his youth. It doesn’t follow the usual narrative line and it never really becomes a cohesive whole. It’s quite an unusual read, but all the more charming for it.
Read this if you want something different, outside of any one genre, but speculative and wildly interesting nevertheless. It is the perfect break from conventional stories with overused plotlines and stock characters. Nothing about this story is conventional, and yet everything is perfect just the way it is.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.