The Descendants Book Review: Fuck Paradise, Really?

Book number 16: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings (made into a movie starring George Clooney – have not seen it). I saw this book online first but after searching websites of local bookstores, it broke my heart to not find it. You bet I felt “so much win” when I visited Fully Booked in Marquee Mall and saw it (but My Man bought it, not me :lol:).

What it is: The Descendants follows the King family: a husband in “prolonged unconsciousness… trying to change“, a wife in a coma discovered to be an adulteress by her husband while she is about to die, and their two daughters – an 18 year old recovering psycho and a 10 year old who is currently psycho; all descendants of Hawaiian royalty who are the largest landowners in the island.

The book challenges readers about their own beliefs regarding family, loyalty, love, forgiveness, and moving forward. Subjects are heavy like adultery, bad parenting, horrible children, marriage collapse, legacy and more, but surprisingly, The Descendants is not a family drama… it is a comedy family drama! 😀

What I liked about it: The way The Descendants is written is awesome. It could have easily been a huge rock falling down on your head but it ended up a treat laced with wit, humor, and fun. I have not read anything like it really; like a song that starts slowly with promise, then climaxes with so much bang to fulfill all it is meant to be. I could not put it down! How can you make hilarity out of such heavy themes and offer tons of sense at the same time? 😀

The lovely Hawaii setting is also spot on. It contradicts everything going on in the life of the King family, which gave birth to the line, “Fuck paradise.” Can anything be better than that? Awesome. I liked The Descendants very much. It’s not perfect in every way but it makes for great reading. How everything was put together is so nice. While I do not agree with all the choices the author made, I still had a satisfied feeling when I reached the last page.

What I did not like about it: The book is told in the perspective of the husband and father, Matthew King. In the beginning, I rooted for him but as the story wore on, I found some of his reactions a little too sterile and a tad unbelievable. Real people respond with rage when they find out their wives cheated on them, plans on divorcing them, and even plans on taking their land behind their backs. They do not respond with kindness and understanding right at the get go. I understand the author made Matthew King take the high road, but c’mon, at least give the guy a chance to punch the other guy hard in the face!

I’m also confused about Sid’s character, a friend-boyfriend of the elder daughter. He definitely helps facilitate the relationship of the girls with their father but at the same time, it seems like he is there as an escape goat, to tie lose ends that Matthew King is too morally upright or too confused to do so.

Recommended for: Beach bums, fathers, and anyone looking for a great read really. The highest praise I can give The Descendants is that I’d read it again definitely sometime. 🙂

Photo taken from here.

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26 thoughts on “The Descendants Book Review: Fuck Paradise, Really?

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    • my man has a copy of the movie and maybe we’d watch it over the weekend. 🙂 i’m interested to know how different the feel is from the book.

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  8. I wanted to watch this in the movies but I didn’t like the plot, maybe I could try checking it out if i could include it in my pending downloadables.

    • after reading the book i’m really considering watching the movie, just to see how different it is from the book. 🙂

  9. I haven’t read the book or watched the movie but after this review I should probably torrent both na no? Also, I hate that you’re on number 16 na while I’m still struggling with number 6. I blame Boggle and other iPod games.

    • i wish you’d read it because i enjoyed it a lot. i think i’d catch the film too, maybe next week or something. my reading slowed down last month. i did not touch a book to give way for the blog event i joined.

  10. I have seen the movie and I did not know what to think of it! It was not quite a drama, not quite a comedy. it reminded me of Juno based on the single fact that it treated something really really serious in an up-beat fashion.
    I really enjoyed it when the father in law punches the older daughter’s boyfriend (well deserved after an insensitive line).
    I was a bit struck as well about the placidity with which he assumes the idea of a cheating wife but he did go and check him out at least.
    The land ownership struggle kinda left me cold.
    Good movie though (I absolutely dislike clooney as an actor so it was a miracle I even saw this movie to begin with)
    Hope the book was better (it’s on my list to read)

    • i enjoyed reading your thoughts. 🙂 the land thing got lost on me as i got too involved in the family drama too. i have not seem the movie but the book is nice. looking forward to what you have to say about the book when you read it!

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