Saturday, June 6, 2020

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds ~ Review

Long Way Down
Source: Purchased.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

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 Will 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.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

Long Way Down was one of the first audiobooks I bought when I decided to try Audible. I knew it was narrated by Jason Reynolds himself, so I thought it would be a good introduction to audiobooks for me. Fast forward I don't even know how many months later and I have many more audiobooks, but I had yet to pick one up--until today, when I finally read Long Way Down. 

I was right. It was the perfect audiobook to start with. It's not very long--less than two hours. And since the book is written in verse, it flows beautifully. Not to mention the fact that Jason Reynolds is reading, which is just...stunning, to say the least. On the audio front, I HIGHLY recommend grabbing this one and giving it a listen. It's very much worth it.

On the story front, it's equally as poignant. Long Way Down is a carefully crafted novel in verse that I'm definitely going to be thinking about for a while. It's a quick story. A moving story. It's amazing how so few words, such a short novel, can build a character and his world so strongly. How as the story goes on, building chapter by chapter, until the end which leaves the reader with so much... Jason Reynolds is an incredibly talented writer, and this book is a clear example of that.

Overall, Long Way Down a book worth reading. Whether you read the physical copy (which I'm going to buy now because I want to see it and own it) or listen to the audiobook (which is beautiful), it should definitely be something you add to your TBR if you haven't already.

5 stars - A quick, poignant story that is stunning in audio

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