Will Parks needs to man up.
A man stands. A man fights. A man bleeds.
These are the first lessons you learn in a town where girls are objects, words are weak and fists do the talking.
Will’s more at home in the classroom than the gym, and the most important woman in his life is his gran. So how can a boy who’s always backed away from a fight become the hero who saves the day?
Because a disaster is coming. One that Will can prevent. But only if he learns the most important lesson of all: sometimes to step up, you have to man down.
First of all – I’d like to say thank you to The Write Reads for running this blog tour + for asking me alongside plenty of other amazing bloggers to be part of this – If you haven’t already do go check them out, all posts will be under the #ManDown and #TheWriteReads hashtags!
Man Down is one of those books I went in to with zero expectations – I was intrigued by the synopsis for sure but aside from that, I had no idea what the novel was about and didn’t even make any guesses. I think this definitely heightened my experience reading this book and trust me it was a real journey. At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the book but as I got deeper into the story and more and more invested in Will’s story – it’s like something clicked and I found myself engrossed.
One of the main things which struck me about this novel was the focus on the protagonist Will growing up as a teenager and the challenges and issues raised by toxic masculinity as part of his experience. As a reader you get to really see how society and specifically the men around him, his brother and dad specifically and how their false sense of bravado and ‘macho’ behaviour has led Will to believing he has to perform and be something other than who he really is, trying and failing to fit in to the narrow boundaries of what a boy or a man ‘should’ be. We read as Will starts to question these ideals and form his own identity and beliefs and reconcile with other peoples expectations versus who he actually is.
The novel grapples with this as a central issue and I believe it manages to delve into this in a pretty touching way. I really enjoyed reading as Will goes from suffering from extreme social anxiety and being somewhat isolated to forming connections with his peers and feeling part of something, indulging in his passions and realising that he is enough and that he is worthy of good things. I think many young readers will be able to relate to Will’s feelings and experiences within the novel and I hope that it can help even one person feel less alone and realise that things will get better.
The author doesn’t shy away from exploring some pretty serious subject matter and I think this is so important in a Y/A novel especially. A lot of the issues and situations the characters find themselves in: dealing with divorced parents, loss, grief, addiction, suicidal ideation, consent and sex to name a few are all things which affect everyone and that a lot of young people specifically are struggling with. I applaud the author for taking these on and providing a realistic depiction but also imbuing the story with hope.
Another great element within the novel was the sense of suspense and mystery cloaking the strange premonitions Will seems to get and the ever present secondary point of view we get every so often. I liked how this plot played out and how it all fits into place once the story reaches its climax – it was clever and made complete sense, and it’s so bittersweet as well. If you’ve read the novel or plan to read it – please tell me you also felt this way because that ending hit me so hard.
Overall, Man Down is a compelling and emotional read which will stick with me – I feel like many readers will benefit from this story and it provides a unique and timely point of view.
Until next time,