Title: Man Down
Author: James Goodhand
Publication Date: March 3, 2022
Genre: YA Thriller/Drama
Number of Pages: 391
From Goodreads: 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.
A searingly powerful exploration of toxic masculinity, perfect for fans of Juno Dawson or They Both Die at the End.
Thank you to The Write Reads for organizing and inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Thank you, Penguin, for providing me with a copy of this book through Net Galley and tour materials in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I picked up Man Down because it was outside my usual wheelhouse. This book was different from anything I’ve read before, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I found some parts of the book disturbing, and they left me feeling unsettled, but I am glad that I gave it a try.
The first thing I want to mention is some of the trigger and content warnings for this book. Man Down includes scenes with suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, suicide, attempted sex with a minor, mentioned sex with a minor (off-page), drug use, and homophobia. A full list of trigger and content warnings can be found on Book Trigger Warnings. I include this list of trigger and content warnings because I would have appreciated a warning about these things so I could have mentally prepared for it.
I didn’t mind most of the characters in this book. I liked watching Will become more confident, and I was rooting for him throughout the book. I also liked Nain (Will’s grandmother), Alfie, and April. I did not like Will’s Dad or Will’s brother Danny, but they were designed to be unlikeable characters.
One of the things this book deals with is toxic masculinity and society’s expectation of what a “real man” is. This was interesting to read about and watch Will grapple with society’s expectations and who he wants to be. I thought it made some interesting points, and I think this could be a good choice for a book club to discuss because it this commentary. I also liked some of the philosophical discussions in this book.
This book had a lot of twists and turns, and there were a lot of moments that I didn’t see coming. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the mystery that Will was trying to solve and trying to figure out where the premonitions were coming from. These twists and turns certainly made for an interesting read.
This book was certainly different from what I’m used to. It’s a thriller with some supernatural aspects in it. It was easy enough to read, though it left me feeling slightly uneasy and unsettled.
James lives in Surrey with his wife and newborn son.
He took up writing three years ago. A mechanic by day, much of his work has been written at an oil stained workbench whilst ignoring a queue of broken cars in need of his attention.
James is also a keen musician, regularly gigging as a rhythm & blues pianist.
James’ debut YA novel, Last Lesson, tackling teen mental illness and toxic masculinity, was published in spring 2020 by Penguin Random House Children’s.
You can purchase a copy of Man Down from Amazon* here.
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This book was fascinating.
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