Ultimate Blog Tour Review: Man Down by James Goodhand

Hey everyone!
Today is my stop on the ultimate blog tour for Man Down by James Goodhand, and I am excited to be sharing my review with you all.

A massive thank you to @The_WriteReads, and @PenguinPlatform for allowing me to be a part of the tour.

Title: Man Down
Author: James Goodhand
Release Date: 3rd March 2022
Page Count: 391
Genre: YA Thriller/Drama
Publisher: Penguin
Buy It Here (affiliate link): Amazon UKWaterstonesBook Depository

Book Blurb:

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.

My Review:

When this tour was announced, I was immediately intrigued by Man Down, and really wanted to find out where this book would go. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.

Will Parks is a quiet, shy, and clearly very awkward teenager. He has no idea how to make friends, and certainly no idea how to talk to girls, but he’s sweet, caring, and respectful. He is the polar opposite of his brother Danny, who is over confident, cocky, and considers himself to be something of a lady’s man. In reality, Danny’s behaviour towards woman is rather disgusting. Actually his entire personality is disgusting, not just the way he is towards women, and instead of making fun of Will, he should be taking notes on how to behave more appropriately. But Danny isn’t the worst of it, there are multiple toxic male characters in Will’s life, including Danny, their father (who is clearly where Danny got his behaviour from), and Will’s boss Mick, and they all think that Will isn’t “man” enough.

The author did a brilliant job of writing this book. As a woman, the level of toxic masculinity at times made me feel quite uncomfortable, but that’s exactly what it should do. It SHOULD be real enough to feel it, and it was incredibly accurate in how it was written.

It took me a little while to get in to this book, it just didn’t grab me straight away and I was unsure how I felt about it for some time, but once the story picked up, I really got in to it. There were some very unusual aspects to this story, with a kind of supernatural element to it that I wasn’t expecting at all. This added a whole new layer to the story, which I really enjoyed. I think this is what really got me hooked, and once I was hooked I couldn’t stop reading.

In regards to the characters, of course I liked Will, and hated Danny, their father, and Mick. But my favourite character was definitely Alfie! Alfie was dealt a really rough hand, and was struggling, but he always put other people before himself. He was still the life of the party, the fun, happy one, and he was just a joy to read. I felt incredibly sorry for April from the very beginning, she was a victim in so many ways, and it was so sad to read. One of my favourite things about this book was Will’s relationship with his Nain (nan), because it was just so pure and beautiful. She was quite clearly the most important part of Will’s family to him, and her love and support for him did not waver. Their relationship was also an integral part of the story.

This book focuses on some very important subjects. As well as the toxic masculinity, it also talks about mental health struggles, and this aspect hit me quite hard. The author did an excellent job of showing how people will hide their struggles and try to deal with them alone, instead of speaking out, and I think that this is even more common within male mental health. A lot of men seem to think that people will consider them “weak” if they admit that they are struggling, or they think they’ll be told to “man up”, and this is where toxic masculinity and mental health issues link together in such a dangerous way. It is not weak to admit you need help, it actually takes a huge amount of strength to open up in that way, and this needs to be spoken about more.

Man Down is one of those stories that starts as a slow burn, and gradually increases in intensity throughout the book, coming together in an explosive and totally unexpected ending. Honestly, the ending blew my mind, I’m still in shock! It was extremely clever, and it definitely makes you think. For me, the ending actually made the book. In a way, it made me think of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, not because it was similar in any way (because it wasn’t) but because of how the ending completely changes your perspective of everything you’ve already read up to that point, and I absolutely loved this about it.

Despite struggling to get in to it initially, I ended up really enjoying this book, and I’m still thinking about that ending now. This was unlike anything I’ve read before, and I look forward to seeing what else the author has in store for us in the future.

I give Man Down a 4 star rating!

About The Author:

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.


Disclaimer: My posts often include affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission for any purchase made through my links, but with no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting me and my blog.

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