Controlled Descent was a fantastic read, and one I’m glad I already own the sequel to so that I can dive right back in again soon. This isn’t the first book I’ve read by the excellent KM Herkes –a few months ago I picked up her novella, “Extraordinary”- so I already knew that this was going to be good. Needless to say I wasn’t at all disappointed.
Her prose is always so beautifully written, with a lingering darkness that adds a weight you don’t often get to read these days. It flows so easily, and with such a fantastic pace that you genuinely won’t want to stop until you’re done. It makes me want to pack nothing but her books and go off on a reading holiday for a few weeks, because being brought back to reality while reading her work isn’t dissimilar from a hard kick in the chops. Her writing never fails to draw me in, to sweep me up and deposit me right in the middle of the story as though I were really there. It doesn’t feel forced or contrived in any way, and you don’t even realise that you’ve been dragged in so deep until you have to come back out again. It’s truly masterful.
The world-building is fantastic, too. It’s an almost dystopian society, but still very closely aligned with the “real world” that sometimes the line between blurs and you feel like it’s all very possible. I think that’s very clever, myself. So many writers try so hard to distance themselves from current society, probably to make things seem scarier, but the world created by the KM Herkes’ Restoration is probably more frightening precisely because you can see such a close resemblance between our world and the fictional one depicted.
For all this praise, however, the highlight of the whole book is definitely the characters. The life that has been breathed into each and every one of them, their distinctive voices, their quirks and flaws, and their motivations are all so spot on. Even the side characters, the ones who don’t get very much page time all seem so very alive. You can tell that a great deal of effort went into constructing these characters, and I really think it was this aspect of the story that made it so very easy to become part of the story as a reader, too. Everyone seemed so very human, so very alive that you can easily get lost in the web of their lives and become incredibly invested in them emotionally.
All in all the book is one I think everyone should read. It’s got everything you could ever want from a story and it’s beautifully crafted, too. Trust me: Read it.