Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019, Jason Reynolds’s original Long Way Down novel-in-verse (stunningly illustrated by Chris Priestley) has here been adapted into a glorious graphic novel. The story is as gripping and moving as ever, its atmosphere perhaps even more poignant courtesy of Danica Novgorodoff’s impactful watercolour illustrations. It’s an incredibly poignant story about breaking the cycles of brutal gang culture that will surely now find an even bigger audience. Two days ago fifteen-year-old Will witnessed the fatal shooting of his big brother. The initial smart of his grief is evoked with characteristic cut-to-the-point lyricism, hauntingly portrayed in a murky, lilac-hued street scene: “When bad things happen, we can usually look up and see the moon, big and bright, shining over us. But when Shawn died, the moon was off.” Tragically, Will knows the drill in these situations - no crying, no snitching, take revenge. “The Rules weren’t meant to be broken. They were meant for the broken to follow,” so Will gets his brother’s gun and heads into the elevator to exact revenge on Shawn’s murderer. But at each level Will encounters figures from his past, among them his friend Buck who died last year, Dani who was shot in a playground, his Uncle Mark, his father. So many lives lost to violence, and their reappearance causes Will to think; to question his plans and question the rules.
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