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Publisher's Summary

Now a major motion picture starring George Clooney!

Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors who came to the islands were financially and culturally progressive - one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state’s largest landowners. But now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control - 10-year-old Scottie has a smart-ass attitude and a desperate need for attention and 17-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. His thrill-seeking and high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat racing accident, and will soon be taken off life support.

The King family can hardly picture life without their charismatic mother, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them - and spurs them into surprising actions.

©2007 Kaui Hart Hemmings. All rights reserved. (P)2010 BBC America Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Matt's journey with his girls forms the emotional core of this sharply observed, frequently hilarious and intermittently heartbreaking look at a well-meaning but confused father trying to hold together his unconventional family." ( Publishers Weekly)
"[An] audaciously comic début novel.... Hemmings channels the voice of her befuddled middle-aged hero with virtuosity, as he teeters between acerbic and sentimental, scoffing at himself even as he grasps for redemption." ( The New Yorker)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    476
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    486
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    225
  • 2 Stars
    43
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    28

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    513
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    410
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    137
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    28
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    17

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    389
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    41
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    30
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Boring and annoying story.

Would you try another book from Kaui Hart Hemmings and/or Jonathan Davis?

Probably not from Kaui Hart. Davis' narration was fine.

Has The Descendants turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not necessarily.

What does Jonathan Davis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Davis did a good job. It was not his fault that the protagonist was not very appealing.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Descendants?

Stopped listening after the first main section, so I can't comment on particular scenes.

Any additional comments?

This is a story about self-centered, entitled people who don't seem to like themselves or each other very much at all. None of the characters aroused my interest or sympathy. Describing them as dysfunctional would be a gross understatement. I did not enjoy their story. I cut my losses and quit listening. Life is too short for wasting time on such an unsatisfying literary experience.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Satisfying

What did you love best about The Descendants?

Everything. The characters are flawed and interesting. I don't know that I would be friends with any of them but I enjoyed their story.

What other book might you compare The Descendants to and why?

None that I can think of.

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I look forward to hearing more from him.

Who was the most memorable character of The Descendants and why?

Probably Matt King.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Michele
  • Idledale, CO, United States
  • 04-01-13

MOVIE WAS WAY BETTER

What did you like best about The Descendants? What did you like least?

I am a born and raise haole "Hawaiian" with family that has similar land situations...so I loved the story and have a distant connection to the author...The movie was wonderful... especially.. George!!! However the narrator turned me off with his poor pronunciation of the Hawaiian language...even the simplest words.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jonathan Davis?

Some one who knows the islands and the language...with a connection.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Listen. I keep on revisiting this.

Great story with great narration. I love the characters and the humor of their real world struggles. Audible 20

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Did not know what to expect

I mentally pictured George Cloonie during this entire book. That raised the enjoyment level quite high.
The story was limited, but the book was enjoyable and simple. Characters were predictable but charming. If you need a pleasant read....Hawaii setting did not hurt.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • C
  • COCKEYSVILLE, MD, United States
  • 10-01-12

Great Story!

If you could sum up The Descendants in three words, what would they be?

Family is first.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Descendants?

The older daughter's boyfriend sneaking behind the father's back to help give him justice for his wife's lover's infidelity.

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

If you could rename The Descendants, what would you call it?

Goodbye Mom.

Any additional comments?

Enjoyable.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Barb
  • North Seattle
  • 09-27-12

Depressing

Would you try another book from Kaui Hart Hemmings and/or Jonathan Davis?

I would try another book, as it is written and performed well.

What could Kaui Hart Hemmings have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Not written it! It's a downer!

What about Jonathan Davis’s performance did you like?

Did the best he could!

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not really. The movie's saving grace was George Clooney, or it would have been as bad.

Any additional comments?

If you're trying to be depressed...read it.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

self reflection

Really great book. It's like looking up one day at your current state in life. Really taking stock of who you are, what you've become, what you've allowed to become and then trying to slowly begin to right the wrongs so that you ultimately end up in a place that's better than you even knew existed. However you had to loose something significant in the process.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Narrator didn't do homework; New story

Interesting story and one that I have never heard before. But I had two complaints:
1) Unfortunately, the narrator did not do his homework. His pronunciation of words commonly used in Hawai'i was poor. He should have done his homework and asked people who say Hawaiian words and local words how to pronounce them. Really, there's no excuse -- I can't believe he mispronounced poke (POH-keh) to name one of many mistakes.
2) My personal preference would have been for the story to reflect Hawai'i more. This is my bias and not a fault of the book/author. I wanted more Hawai'i and culture of Hawaiians and the local people who live in Hawai'i. There wasn't enough for me.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Loren
  • Indiana, USA
  • 03-02-16

Chick Book - Big Time.

This may be the biggest chick book I have ever listened to from Audible.

While it’s written (by a woman author) in the first person from the perspective of the husband, the first hour of this book is ALL about emotions and relationships. Virtually NOTHING happens. I can’t comment about the story beyond the first hour because I gave up at that point.

I’m surprised at the men who have enjoyed this book. Maybe it gets a lot better after the first hour, but I just couldn’t put up with any more of this pathetic husband’s whining.

– Loren

1 of 3 people found this review helpful