Landon is a 10-year-old boy who has known nothing but abuse from his parents. The violence gets to a point where they actually kill them. When Landon dies and ends up in purgatory, he will be faced with knowledge and choices that will determine whether he will go to Heaven or Hell.
It took me a while to get into Ascendance. Right from the start there was one thing that bothered me a lot: the constant changes from present to past tense and vice versa, sometimes even in the same sentence. It got extremely confusing and it was present during the entire narrative.
And then there was no character development for more than a third of the book. The first two chapters were basically a display of the most horrific violence one can imagine. Garrett is portrayed as someone utterly evil, for no reason. And Lisa… I couldn’t even tell what was up with her. One minute she doesn’t care about Landon either, the boy who came out of her womb, and even encourages Garrett to beat him – and the next she is all sympathetic to the men she meets online.
I didn’t get the thing with the dirtiness in the house. Lisa lived and supposedly worked in that house every single day, isolated from everyone, and she could endure living in a place where there is feces and urine and even an almost decade year old soiled diaper? When she is reported to take showers herself at least twice because she wanted to get cleaned up? Just didn’t make much sense to me.
But most of all I didn’t get Landon. When we are introduced to our main character, we are told that he lives most of his life in a cage, and that the only people he knows are his violent and abusive parents. In other books or movies I have come across, a child growing in these conditions is not even able to speak, and becomes almost animalistic. So then how did Landon develop eloquent speech and thoughts? How does he even know what love is if he has no recollection of receiving it? How does he know about concepts like God or other children and how their life is like? All we know is his age, what he looks like, the abuse he has gone through all his life, the only one he ever knew, and that his only toy is a wooden spoon (which is repeated almost to exhaustion), and yet he seems to have information about the outside world. At first, I thought maybe he watched all that information on TV, but we are told that his father broke it by shooting at it. Over the book, we never get an explanation as to how Landon developed these thoughts and notions.
So I was introduced to a reality which I didn’t understand, and therefore could not relate to. Everything seemed disjointed, staged for the sake of the book’s purpose, which is obviously to bring awareness to violence and to the importance of good moral choices. It is a noble purpose, for sure. But I felt that there was a lot of ugliness and that was it.
Then it started to get better. We finally got some background info on our characters, knowing how they came to be who they were (but only Garrett and Lisa, still nothing about Landon). By that point I kind of felt it was too late and had trouble relating or even connecting to the story. There should have been bits and pieces in the previous third of the book that would later relate to the explanations given at this point, even if not the whole story, because it did make sense that they would come here. There were subtle attempts, but not nearly enough to keep me gripped.
The repetitions didn’t help. A lot of the same word was said all over again, and expressions/ideas as well, particularly of the Evil One’s plans, why and how he had them, and what he would do and whatnot. I felt like I was reading the same things all over again and that is never pleasant.
There were some pretty terrific scenes of horror, and the premise is a good one. But given the very green prose, the repetitions, the time it took to get to know a bit of the characters, the lack of explanations about Landon’s development and more, I cannot give it more than 2.5 stars, rounded down. With a proper edit, the verb tenses fixed, those little connections I mentioned, the repetitions eliminated, etc, the rating can easily climb up, because this book really does have potential.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from March 19 to 21, 2015