Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel

(2 reviews with an average rating of 4 out of 5)

Publisher: Faber

Will is a black American teenager, living in a neighbourhood overshadowed by gun crime. When his older brother Shawn is shot dead in front of him, Will is overcome with grief, despair and fury. Focusing on the Rules – no crying, no snitching, get revenge – Will takes Shawn’s gun, intending to avenge his brother’s murder. However, the 67 seconds he spends in the lift from his apartment to the ground floor are life-changing for Will. He is joined by six ‘ghosts’, key figures from his past, whose deaths are all gun-related. Learning how and why each of them died prompts him to consider whether the perpetual cycle of revenge killing is the only way forward.

This hard-hitting tale, based on an award-winning novel in verse by the same author, is extremely accessible in graphic novel format. Striking ink-and-watercolour illustrations bring the setting to life, while the comic-book layout adds pace and urgency to the narrative. There is tremendous scope for discussion about gang culture, gun violence, the impact murder has on those left behind and the decisions people make when they feel there is no alternative. The book contains graphic depictions of smoking, drug dealing, guns and death, so is intended for a mature audience.

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