Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Notes: Jeff Long's The Descent

I found this book because I loved the movie - it was a great horror movie, even if the monsters were removed. The movie is just a derivative story representative of similar vignettes contained within the novel.

The novel is SO much more than a monster movie. It's an adventure. The story takes you through a new world miles below ground. While there most certainly are monsters, most of them are human. The savage, barbaric race central to the book's story comes to life under Long's "pen." In fact, everything about the story is vibrant and realistc.

While even the author has a hard time pigeon-holing this one into a specific genre, which makes it hard to find in the bookstore, it only serves to illustrate how wide-ranging this adventure roams, and it's all groovy. I LOVED this book and immediately moved on to the sequel.


  1. I was under the impression that the film was not based on this book. Hmmm. I'll have to see where I read that. I tried reading the book, but had a hard tome getting into it. I'm not sure what kept me from liking it, as I read a couple good reviews and it sounded like something I'd really enjoy. Maybe I need to give it another shot. Do you own it, and can I borrow it?

  2. Oh, and I loved the movie, too. I think I may have been the one who recommended it to you, actually. :-)

  3. The film may in fact be in no way related to the book. I can't find anything to verify that it is. But the themes and story are awfully similar by one heck of a coincidence.

    The background story in the book is that there exists an underground world of networked caverns inhabited by these humanoid monsters, and that they seem to predate humans.

    The bulk of the novel is about our culture and theirs coming into conflict as we try to colonize and mine the underworld for our own political gain, and destroy the "monsters" found living there.

    Stories like the one told in the movie are examples of individual people coming into contact with this other race before the world as a whole knows about them, and they have very similar results. The novel begins with several vignettes of this type to set the stage for the real story that the author has to tell.

    So while the book and movie may be completely unrelated, they're awfully damned similar, especially since they are both incredible pieces of storytelling in their own right.

    (And yes, I'll gladly loan you the book! I'm nearly finished with the sequel, but it came from the library.)

  4. Ah, I may not have gotten past the opening vignettes before I put it down. I read a review of it on Paizo's website, I think. It was described as a real world underdark setting, and that sounded really cool.

    I was surprised at the number of films that came out about the same time that had very similar themes. The Descent, The Cave, The Cavern (aka WIthIN). The Descent was the only one that I saw, and from what I read, the only one worth watching. as a fan of caves and caving (although I rarely get to go), I love this kind of movie if it's done well, as The Descent was. Knowing what it's like to be in a cave and what it's like with no light underground makes the movie that much more frightening.

  5. Yes, it's very much like an adventure in the Underdark. In fact, the main story is about an expedition into this underground world by a group of people with mixed motives.

    And yes, you put the book down too soon. I nearly did too. At first it felt like a Ludlum- or Clancy-style formulaic travesty.

    While Jeff Long does use that multiple POV formula, the story he tells is original and his writing is evocative. I really felt like I could see (or as was the case with most of these characters - smell) the surroundings and feel the dark all around me. I really liked this book.