Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

book review

Long Way Down

 

Source: Borrowed
Publisher: Atheneum
Series: –
Edition: Hardcover, 306 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4/5 Stars

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

Long Way Down is a poignant verse novel that is both raw and powerful in its emotion. I will say this is review will be somewhat small because the text itself is rather short and because much of this novel relays on the reveal.

The story takes place during a long elevator ride where the rider, Will, is on his way to seek revenge for the murder of his brother. Each section represents a floor past, and with each section more is revealed about Will and more about those in his neighborhood/life. The verse is fluid and laid in a way that the words hold power and tension, and really pushes that emotion even farther. By the end of the novel I had a knot in my throat and even now, weeks after I read it, the story has stuck with me. There is so much to examine in such a small book, things like the cycle of violence and the impact it has no just on individuals by entire communities.

I read the text version because that just so happened to be what I had on hand, but I did listen to portions of the audiobook and I must say it is excellent as well! It is read by the author and I think this story really shines as a spoken word text, and wholeheartedly recommend that audio.

Go forth, and grab a copy of this if you can! It’s powerful and important story great not just for the teens it’s written for, but for adults and people of all backgrounds.

4 stars

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Graphic Novel Review: The Witcher Vol. 2 – Fox Children

graphic novel review

The Witcher Vol. 2Source: Library
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Series: The Witcher #6-10
Edition: Paperback, 136 Pages
Genre: Dark Fantasy Comic
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 2/5 Stars

Geralt’s journey leads him aboard a ship of fools, renegades, and criminals–but some passengers are more dangerous than others, and one hides a heinous secret that could lead crew and passengers to a bitter and hideous fate at the hand of a vengeful fox mother!

So, I talked previously about my relationship with the Witcher franchise in my review for Volume One – you can find that here – so I won’t go into it again here. Sitting down with the first book gave me a little hope that while the series wouldn’t be mind-blowing or something I crave, it would be decent enough that I wouldn’t have outright disdain for it like I do with the games. However, volume two has shown me that it’s probably not going to get too much better than volume one.

Before I start I will say that each of these volumes are self-contained stories and don’t seem to have much in the way of direct timeline connection. So in terms of volume one and two, the order in which you grab them doesn’t matter. It doesn’t seem to have any spoilers for the games or books either, from what I can tell and that’s simply because not a ton happens in either of them.

Fox Children picks up with Geralt agreeing to protect a ship crew in exchange for passage to another city, and due to pretty much everyone making bad life choices things quickly escalate. We have a story centered around a creature called a Vulpess, a fox like creature with the ability to take the form of an elven woman, and it’s full of illusions and vengeance. I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if the cast of characters had been a little different. Much of the crew are irredeemable idiots save the lone female which barely received any page time or characterization, and of course Geralt and his dwarven friend.  The Vulpess as a creature is really intriguing and I loved the length she was willing to go to get what she wanted, and even though many of the characters are frustratingly stupid it was satisfying to see them fall prey to her tricks. It’s a perfectly fine idea of a story, the faults, however, loom large for me.

The first being the dialogue. Now I do believe this is true to form for the characters, as the dialogue is pretty much spot on with the games which also makes me grit my teeth. Much of it feels so forced and some of it is just outright stupid. The worst line alluding to the fact that they could never understand the Vulpess, who is part elf and part fox but “entirely female” and that being “mysterious, whimsical, and mischevious” are the core of their nature. Now the mischevious thing I’ll give a pass because they are basically foxes which have been characters as being tricksters, but the rest of it and the ‘entirely female’ part makes me want to throw something. I loathe generalizations like this, because it’s impossible for all women to be these unknowable creatures. Now we also move on to a theme that is also in the other media, all the women are there to be looked at. It’s an odd complaint given the format, but what I mean is all the ‘villainous’ women are naked for much of their page time. In some cases, it’s because they need to get across the grotesque nature of the creature and other cases its to show how beautiful and magnetic they are. Because as we know, there is no way to portray that with clothes on. It in cases it does make sense like water hags, but then the women who only wear skirts and no tops (volume one) or the fact that they draw the Vulpess covered in fur for one panel and then she’s naked with a fox head for the rest of it. I get that’s part of the appeal of this series, and I wouldn’t mind it if it wasn’t a focus for just the women.

I will say that the endings are a strong point for these stories though, and I like that they don’t tie up with Geralt coming out a victor in some bloody battle. There is a bit more to it and it’s not what you might initially suspect. I just really wish that same depth went into the characters as well.

I will continue the series, mostly because I’m reading a large bind up of them, but I don’t have much hope for them at this point. I will say if you do enjoy the Witcher books and games, then definitely give these a try as I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as well. I desperately wish I was one of those people.

2 stars

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