The Descent Review: Climate Crisis Follow Up - SciFiNow

The Descent Review: Climate Crisis Follow Up

Paul E. Hardisty’s The Descent is a follow up to his climate change apocalyptic novel, The Forcing, and follows two timelines. Our review…

The latest book from Paul E. Hardisty, The Descent is interestingly constructed as both a sequel and a prequel, utilising two intertwining timelines to delve deep into the complex web of events leading up to and following the world-altering climate crisis seen in his previous, The Forcing (read our books of the month review here).

The first timeline is set in 2066 in the aftermath of the crisis, and follows Kweku Ahsworth and his family as they embark on a perilous expedition to uncover the truth behind his parents’ journey at sea before he was born.

The second timeline ranges from the present day through to 2039 and is delivered as diary entries of the personal secretary to a powerful figurehead of a multinational conglomerate. Each entry slowly sheds light on the machinations of the wealthy elite who have prioritised profit over the environment, contributing to the catastrophic future of The Forcing.

While The Descent digs a little deeper and works hard to elaborate on a complex world, it’s rather less impactful than The Forcing. Revisiting themes of corporate greed and political manipulation, Hardisty holds a mirror up to the titans of today’s very real world problems and seems to be using the book as a platform to raise awareness of a cause he cares deeply about.

The present-day timeline feels very plausible and terrifyingly so. Though the power-hungry figureheads seem a little prototypical, reactions of the general public feel uncomfortably real, with social media and charismatic leaders shaping the direction of world politics.

Contrary to The Forcing, characters in The Descent are more a conduit to deliver a story rather than three-dimensional, relatable protagonists. The use of two timelines means you never really get to know the characters in either, which leaves a slight lack of emotional resonance.

The Descent will very much appeal to fans of The Forcing (those who haven’t read the latter will likely be confused) as Hardisty’s post-apocalyptic world is more fully explored in this follow-up. It also expands the lens to allow an eye-opening view of what caused the world’s demise in the first place, answering plenty of questions posed in The Forcing. However, they may be disappointed that the latter doesn’t quite pack the punch of its predecessor.

The Descent is out now from Orenda Books.