Monday, October 16, 2017

LONG WAY DOWN BY JASON REYNOLDS - BOOK REVIEW

I'm still processing this one. It was a super quick read but a very heavy hitter. I've been meaning to pick up something by Reynolds for a long, long time, but for whatever reason hadn't. After reading this book, I will definitely be looking at others by him.


Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds.


Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

The story, written in verse, takes place over the span of one minute. The main character, Will, is on his way to get revenge for his brother, Shawn's death. The book takes place in an elevator, Will is riding it to down from the seventh floor to go find Shawn's killer. But once he gets to the sixth floor, Shawn's friend Buck gets on. He begins to ask Will questions about what he means to do with Shawn's gun. That's not the weird part though, the weird part is that Buck is dead. And so is Dani, Will's childhood friend who gets on the elevator on the fifth floor. With each floor, a new person gets on - someone connected to Will and someone who is dead. As they descend, Will begins to question himself and the three Rules: No crying, no snitching and always get revenge.

Like I said, this was my first Reynolds's book and I am very happy with it. I loved the premise of the story, even before I got started and I am always trying to expand into more verse-written novels. As with many other books dealing with serious issues, Reynolds uses verse to help lighten a dark subject. I also find that this sort of narration has an opposite effect, allowing the author to put emphasis on only the important and often difficult parts of a story, something that Reynolds does with ease.

We do get some background information from each new character getting on the elevator, filling in the gaps that Will either doesn't know or doesn't share with the reader. We see Will's internal struggle of deciding what to do, follow the Rules or choose a different path. I was pleasantly surprised to see the depth of both the story and the characters given the style of the writing and the time frame of the story. I often find that verse novels lack a depth that comes with a more traditional prose, but Reynolds was able to capture the heartbreak and gravity of the story in the verse style perfectly.

This is one of those books that will be a quick read but will stay with you. I finished it in under an hour, I think at one point I stopped reading to catch my breath and I was already almost done. Reynold's keeps you turning the pages and enthralled with the story from beginning to end. It's not so much a thrilling read as it is a fast paced one you are eager to see the ending of.

Reynolds also touches on some heavier issues including drug dealing, gun violence, and gangs - and while these issues are relevant to the plot, they never overtake Will and his story. They are just pieces of the world he lives in and part of what got people he knows killed. Once again, with the verse narrative, these issues are broken up and keenly sprinkled throughout the book.

Overall, I can find no fault in this book. It is a powerful read and I would highly recommend it.