Review: Long Way Down – The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds – Haunting, but Not in a Spooky Way

Hello all! Today I’m excited to share my review and #ownvoices reflection of the graphic novel version of Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and Danica Novgorodoff. I read the novel version years ago, so I was quite excited to revisit the story in a new form.

Thank you to Hear Our Voices Tours and the publisher for including me on this blog tour and providing me with an e-arc for review! All opinions are my own. You can view the rest of the amazing tour schedule here for additional content types!


About the Book

Title: Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel

Author: Jason Reynolds

Artist: Danica Novgorodoff

Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 

Genre: YA Contemporary/Graphic Novel

Release Date: 10/13/2020

Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Synopsis: Jason Reynolds’s Newbery Honor, Printz Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor–winning, #1 New York Times bestselling novel Long Way Down is now a gripping, galvanizing graphic novel, with haunting artwork by Danica Novgorodoff.

Will’s older brother, Shawn, has been shot.
Dead.
Will feels a sadness so great, he can’t explain it. But in his neighborhood, there are THE RULES:

No. 1: Crying.
Don’t.
No matter what.

No. 2: Snitching
Don’t.
No matter what.

No. 3: Revenge
Do.
No matter what.


About the Author and Artist

Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Newberry Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. Reynolds is also the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His many books include When I was the Greatest, The Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (co-written with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Look Both Ways, and Long Way Down, which received a Newberry Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com and through the following social media sites:

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Danica Novgorodoff is an artist, writer, graphic designer, and horse wrangler from Louisville, Kentucky, 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 have 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. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and Willapa Bay Air. Visit her online at DanicaNovgorodoff.com and throught the following social media sites:

Danica Novgorodoff is an artist, writer, graphic designer, and horse wrangler from Louisville, Kentucky, 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 have 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. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and Willapa Bay Air. Visit her online at DanicaNovgorodoff.com and throught the following social media sites:

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Review

Pros

  • Beautiful Watercolor Art
  • Conveys the story in a way that might be accessible to more readers
  • Quick Read (Less than an hour)
  • Powerful, haunting story that deals with real world issues.
  • Contains little details we don’t get in the original source material
  • Ambiguous Ending

Cons

  • Ambiguous Ending could be frustrating for some

The Graphic Novel version of Long Way Down is just as breathtaking, haunting, and thought-provoking as the original novel told in verse. Supplemented with gorgeous watercolor art, the story really shines here and might even be accessible to readers who don’t enjoy poetic verse novels, or to readers who prefer graphic novels to text-exclusive books. I’m 100% in support of presenting books in accessible ways that widen their readership, especially books like this that tell stories that need to be read. You wouldn’t normally expect soft watercolor art to be associated with a book about gun violence, but it works so perfectly in this sitatuation! The artist did an excellent job of conveying the scenes.

Long Way Down tells the story of a young teen, Will, who witnesses his brother Shawn’s murder. The next morning, he sets out to follow The Rules taught to him by his brother, which involve not crying, not snitching, and getting revenge. As he descends to the ground level of his apartment building, he is visited by ghosts/spirits/people somehow connected to Shawn and Will. Through them, a greater story and moral dilemma is revealed. I won’t spoil who is met or what happens, of course, but the revelations and story are quite gripping and will keep you wonder who will enter the elevator next. The stories and characters are all connected in some way, which is fascinating to read.

Both the original verse novel and the graphic novel adaptation are very quick reads, but they pack such a punch. The ending will haunt you and leave you wondering. Again, no spoilers, but Reynolds left it very ambiguous and open to the reader’s interpretation, which could be frustrating, but I love that it makes for a great discussion point.

I personally have been quite fortunate to have not been affected by gun violence in my life. I grew up away from the city of Chicago in the nicer suburbs, so this isn’t a directly shared experience. However, this book really opened my eyes to the deeply rooted mentality that someone (especially young people) might face in a situation like this. It really just makes me feel lucky that I had the upbringing I did, and also makes me more sympathetic to the violent situations in big cities.

All-in-all, this graphic novel adaptation gets 5 stars from me! I’d recommend it to anyone tbh, but in a bit of a strange comparison, I’d actually recommend it to fans of Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading! Do you like reading graphic novels? Let me know down below! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour schedule!


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