Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tuesday Reviews: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Release Date: Ocotber 24, 2017
Format Read: Hardback
Rating: Four Stars

Description from Goodreads: A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer.
A tool
for RULE 3.

Or, you can call it a gun. That's what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That's where Will's now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother's gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he's after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that's when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn's gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn't know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck's in the elevator? Just as Will's trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck's cigarette. Will doesn't know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Shawn had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END... if WILL gets off that elevator.

I'll be honest-- I never thought I'd like this book, and I had my reasons:

1.) I knew nothing about it other than it was a BIG DEAL, and usually the books that become a BIG DEAL before I read them don't end up being a BIG DEAL to me.
2.) It's written in verse, and I hate poetry. If it's in verse, odds are it'll take a pretty strong push to get me to read it. (I'm stubborn, I know)
3.) I'm very white. I haven't had any experience with life in the ghetto, or the fear of territorial gangs, and so I worried that I wouldn't appreciate the book. 

However, I LOVE learning about people other than me. Religions, walks of life, races, because all we ever really know is our own lives, unless we look for more. I'm always looking-- I want to learn as much as I can about about our world, and that includes the people. 

So LONG WAY DOWN was on my tbr, it just wasn't high up.

And then, I just kept hearing more and more about it. Kirkus reviews, awards, nominations, raving tweets, and suddenly it was one of (if not THE) biggest book of 2017. So, naturally, I thought it would be a good First Review of 2018.

Like I'm sure most of you did, I sped through this book and ended up loving it. It was written in verse, but not the way I expected-- it wasn't rhyming poetry and ridiculous "ne'er" type stuff that really just sounds the same as when you say "never"-- it was a story being told in shorter lines, clipped sentences, and it was GrEaT for emphasis.

And most of you guys know, I LOVE emphasis.

Plus, all but like ten pages of this book takes place in a single elevator ride. The book begins with floor 7 and ends on the ground floor, and I have always loved the idea of a book that takes place over one day, let alone a single. elevator. ride.

As well as this, the story is evocative in a way that I didn't expect. The pages aren't riddled with details, but I could see everything so clearly, and it was surprising.

Something else is that this is like a 300 page book, but I read it in an hour. Partially because of the writing style, but also because I wanted to know more. I wanted to know who the people were as they got on the elevator. Who they were, how they related to Will, how they related to Shawn-- it was all necessary information that Reynolds expertly teased out of them, and I couldn't wait to find it out.


Not saying  W O R D about that.




This was my first Jason Reynolds book, and he executed LONG WAY DOWN perfectly. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about it, which was a pleasant surprise and definitely not what I was expecting. 

I give this novel-in-verse four stars and suggest that everyone go read it so that you can have that major WOW feeling that I had when I finished the book. Seriously, I was amazed.

Have you guys read this one? Tell me what you thought/think!


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