- Genre: YA Thriller/Drama
- Length: 391 Pages
- Publishing: 3rd March 2022
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Down-James-Goodhand-ebook/dp/B0932DWBTV
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58480771-man-down
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.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Man Down by James Goodhand is a supernatural tale about the unlikeliest of heroes and the events that made him what he becomes.
What I Enjoyed:
I loved the supernatural elements. Based on the book’s description, I didn’t expect them, and the surprise of that aspect, as well as the component itself, are a compelling force that kept the pages turning. I wanted to know if Will Parks indeed had premonitions or if it was just his anxiety. And the two people that kept warning him of things to come – were they real or imagined? It provided me with many spine-chilling moments as the book progressed.
I didn’t care for the world full of toxic masculinity that Will lived in, but I liked what that meant for Will’s character development. All the men in this story are crude, base, misogynistic, and spoiling for a fight, except for Will Parks, his friend Alfie, and another schoolmate Kris. His brother, the men that came into the bar where he worked, and others around him left me cold with their depiction. But nothing makes someone stand out more than if they are different from the pack.
This character-driven story is told in limited third-person narration, focusing solely on Will Parks. His story is atmospheric and full of darkness and question. For the first seventy-five percent of the novel, I wasn’t sure where the story was going or if I wanted to go there with it. But the last twenty-five percent made me glad that I had, and the ending… oh my, what an ending. Book clubs and teachers will love to discuss that ending and how it reframes the whole story.
What I Wish:
All men other than Will and a few of his friends being so toxically masculine left me wondering where all of the real men were. Where are the masculine men who treat women and other men with respect? Many exist in the world, but poor Will Parks didn’t have any such role model and thus was open to all that he had to go through. My one wish is that his environment had been more reflective of the real world.
Will Parks is a tall young man, and he does not enjoy things like sports, lifting weights, and meaningless sexual encounters. He has many anxieties and would rather keep the peace than participate in a physical fight. Everyone around him questions his sexuality because of this, causing him to ask if he was wrong about who he is and who he is attracted to. His life is filled with struggle, and he has to either overcome or be defined by the people around him.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you are looking for a unique, fresh voice telling a story about what it means to be a man in a world full of toxic masculinity and enjoy an ending that will lead you to contemplate for many days after you close the book for the last time, Man Down is just the book you are looking for.
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.