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First Descent by Pam Withers

First Descent (edition 2011)

by Pam Withers

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5321317,861 (4)7
Title:First Descent
Authors:Pam Withers
Info:Tundra Books (2011), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:children's book, teen fiction, adventure, Canadian author, Columbia

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First Descent by Pam Withers

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    Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: Another Latino adventure novel with a good dose of politics as background.

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A solid adventure story for young adult readers! The story follows protagonist, Rex, the 17 year old grandson of a crotchety kayaking legend who mysteriously left Columbia before completing his descent of the El Furioso River. With the mission of completing what his grandfather started, Rex travels to Southwest Columbia, where he learns the truth about his grandfather’s legacy. Along the way, he meets Myriam, an indigenous teen who forces him to see beyond his kayaking goals to the plight of Columbian villagers caught in the crossfire of guerillas, paramilitaries, and the Columbian government. The writing is strong in some areas- Withers uses vivid images of Rex’s kayaking maneuvers and masterfully creates tension that compels the reader to go on. The weaker parts of the book are when Withers goes inside of characters’ heads and the transitions can be rather abrupt as the novel bounces back and forth between Rex’s narration and a third person p.o.v. There is an underlying story about the prejudice and egocentricity of Rex and his grandfather, who seem to view Columbians as ignorant and cultureless (to varying degrees). This is a great topic for discussion among young adult readers, but I wish Withers had gone further with it. The ending hints that Rex’s perspective is shifting, but a deeper look into the culture of the Columbian people could have created a much-needed epiphany for Rex. In general though, this book has a compelling storyline that would hold much appeal for adventure-loving 14-17 year olds. I’m glad to have it in my library for students to read!

• I received this book through Library Thing Early Reviewers ( )
  Kristilafollette | Jun 23, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wow! I didn't have high expectations for this novel and I'm not really sure why. Maybe the cover art was a little cheesy for my taste or something. I'm not really sure. But regardless of my initial thoughts, I was definitely proven wrong. It was an awesome read! Kids, kayakers, and thrill seekers alike will love this book. It's informative, adventuresome, full of history, South American culture, and sporting knowledge. It's got something for everyone.

This story follows Rex as he chases his grandfather's dream of being the first one to successfully kayak the deadly Furioso river in the wild, dangerous country of Columbia. At seventeen he secures enough sponsors, money, and teammates to attempt the first descent on this wild unmapped river. But Rex soon finds out that political unrest, genocide, and guerrilla's may kill him before he ever makes it to the river. He befriends a local indigenous tribe, the same ones his grandfather met decades before when trying to master the river and soon learns more about himself, his grandfather, and the poor endangered natives then he ever thought possible.

It's an engrossing read and I learned loads about white water rafting and the unrest in Columbia. A must read for adventure fans!

I received this book for free from Librarything in return for my honest, unbiased opinion. ( )
  ecataldi | Apr 17, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book from the Early Reviewers and was quite looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I just could not get into it at all. I tried several times and it just didn't capture my interest. On the flip side, I gave it to my roommate and she said she thought it was ok. For this reason, I am giving it 2.5 stars. I will definitely give it another try at a later time. ( )
  TracyCampbell | Mar 25, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A riveting and action packed book for all ages! Let me begin by saying I am a novice when it comes to kayaking, but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book. The author does a fine job with drawing the reader in and you feel as though you are riding the white waters along with Rex. Another excellent detail of the book is drawing a vivid image of what life is like in a country where you never feel safe, something many of us take for granted.

Rex is tired of living in his grandfather's shadow and feeling like he always has to prove himself to his elder. His grandfather is a world renown kayaker but he has one section of a river in Columbia which he gave up and did not achieve his first descent. This is the river that Rex intends to tame and claim the first descent for himself. After traveling to Columbia, Rex finds an indigena girl to be his guide along the most difficult part of the river. Rex and his fellow kayakers are accepted into Miriam's village and learn what life is like for them, but Rex refuses to acknowledge the dangers looming all around him. But he can't ignore them when he himself becomes the target and must find a way to escape from something much more dangerous than the river he came to run.

I recommend this book for readers of all ages and genre types. I would have read this book in one sitting if I could have found a way. The book grabs your attention early and hangs on with a death grasp! Excellent book! I look forward to reading more by this author! ( )
  ShelleyDaugherty | Mar 23, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Rex was a 17 yr. old boy who was a Kayaker like his Grandfather. He wanted to go to Columbia ,South America and complete the First Descent on the Furioso River that his grandpa had attempted by didn't finish. Columbia was very unsafe because of the paramilitary, guerillas and army units. Rex went to Columbia but his two companions left him due to the danger there. His grandad had met some indigena communities and never told anyone that he had fathered a child with one of the natives and was chased out of Columbia before completing the fist descent of the river. Rex meet the indigena that his grandad knew and discovered that he had a cousin
(Myriam )and Uncle living in the village. He was captured by the guerilla's but escaped with the help of Alberto & Myriam. The story of their adventure finishes the story as the trio makes it safely down the treacherous river. ( )
  LarryMicheli | Mar 10, 2014 |
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To my niece Ester Tuttle
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When the shot rang out, I leapt from my bed, lifted a corner of the bedroom curtain, and looked down on the river bend.
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Montana-born Tex dreams of following in his grandfather's footsteps and kayaking down one of the world's last unconquered wild rivers. When he finally gets enough sponsors, Rex heads to South America to tackle the river known as El Furioso. In Columbia he hires seventeen-year-old Myriam Calambas to be his guide. Myriam longs to go to a university, become a reporter, and tell the world what is happening to her world. Can the two avoid the clashes between the paramilitaries who protect the rich landowners and the guerrillas who are supposed to protect the poor? And can Tex achieve his dream?… (more)

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