Fifteen-year-old Will knows the rules: No crying, no snitching and get revenge. Those are the thoughts that consume his mind as he rides down the elevator of his building, a gun tucked into the back of his jeans, out for blood to avenge the murder of his brother Shawn. At each floor, an unexpected guest gets on, giving Will something more to consider about his plan.
This book essentially takes place in the span of a little over 60 seconds. 60 seconds of an elevator ride down to the ground floor from the 7th. What I hadn’t realized before starting Long Way Down was that it’s actually all in verse. I hadn’t read any novels written this way before and I absolutely loved this narrative style. Each page is a different verse, formatted in a visually appealing and appropriate way.
I don’t necessarily want to equate this to a story about gangs, but I loved the perspective it gave in how one action begets another reaction, and the cycle continues. Through his words, Reynolds has offered an insight into that kind of thought process. The horrible, unending loop when revenge is always sought. The journey that Will takes is not only physical but also an emotional one as well. The poetic verses are so expressive and succinct.
The way the story unfolds certainly encourages discussion, as it’s filled with nuance and shows that some things may not necessarily be so simply black or white. This is a fantastic read for fans of prose and other contemporary fiction, like Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give. The verse format and the compelling story with such a sense of urgency made for a book I couldn’t put down.