Kid’s Book Review: Long Way Down

Kid’s Book Review: Long Way Down

About the Book and Author

This is an awesome book for teen / YA readers. It it the graphic novel adaptation of Jason Reynold’s award-winning blank verse novel with stunning illustrations by Danica Novgorodoff.

After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.

This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel published by Faber is impressive.

Hear what the writer has to say about in this YouTube clip.

Long Way Down cover
Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds is a critically acclaimed American writer and poet and winner of the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers.
From Jason: ‘Here’s what I know: I know there are a lot – A LOT – of young people who hate reading. I know that many of these book haters are boys. I know that many of these book-hating boys, don’t actually hate books, they hate boredom. So here’s what I plan to do: NOT WRITE BORING BOOKS.’
Check out his website to find out more about this talented dude and his very cool books.

Danica Novgorodoff is an artist, writer, graphic designer, and horse wrangler from Louisville, KY, currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Her books include A Late Freeze, Slow Storm, Refresh, Refresh (included in Best American Comics 2011), and The Undertaking of Lily Chen. Her art and writing has been published in Best American Comics, Artforum, Esquire, VQR, Slate, Orion, Seneca Review, Ecotone Journal, and many others. She was awarded a 2015 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in Literature, and was named Sarabande Books’ 2016 writer in residence. This is her website.

Book Review

At the end of the book there is a cliff-hanger

Although it is quite a chunky book I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to read and how quickly I read it as I have not picked up any graphic novels before and was a bit uncertain if I would enjoy reading it. I did not realise until after I finished reading it that Long Way Down was first published in verse, but now that I know it kind of makes sense and dictates the pace of the story.

I thought the storyline flowed naturally and was not confusing. It is set in United States and describes a place where gun crime is unfortunately more common than in the UK. Although that backdrop is alien to me, I felt better informed about what it must be like to live there. I think it is a really important book because it does make you stop and think about what you would do in that situation and it highlights the problems of gang violence without glorifying it.

The pictures really made the words come to life and they gave a face to the characters in the story. I like the artist’s watercolour technique and style. It feels like a high quality art book with thick paper and matt pictures instead of some of the glossy manga-type books I have seen. I actually got quite absorbed in looking at Danica’s artwork as I am studying GCSE art and draw a bit too.

I liked how, instead of chapters, the narrative was sub-divided into sections using the floor levels indicated by the lift (or elevator) in the high rise building where the story was set. I found this highly original and appreciated this creative aspect which made it the book more interesting because it was a bit different. The whole story actually takes place in just a few seconds whilst the lift is going down and Will is agonising about his decision.

The main character in the story is a teenage male called Will whose situation  I could not identify with, but who I liked and had empathy for. He seemed to be a real person and I had a good sense of how he might appear in screen adaptation. It would make a really good film I think.

The story-line is interesting because it is about Will wanting to avenge for his brother’s death by shooting his murderer. But he is haunted by the voices of people from his past, like his father, friends and uncle, who try to persuade him why he should not return the violence. At the end of the story there is a cliff-hanger and Will’s final decision is deliberately left open for the reader’s interpretation. I chose to believe that he did not commit a crime and shoot someone.

I would recommend the book to other people aged 14 years +    And please tell Jason he did good – it is not a boring book and I would like to read more of his other stories.



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Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Kit
  • Age: 16 years
  • Likes: playing football, golf and cricket
  • Dislikes: sickly food and untidiness
  • Favourite Book (from when I was little): Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
  • Favourite Film: Hot Fuzz
  • Favourite Song: She Bangs the Drums by The Stone Roses