Solo by Kwame Alexander
Solo by Kwame Alexander is a compelling and inspirational YA novel published in 2017, about a boy willing to defy the odds to find where he truly belongs in life. The protagonist, 17-year-old Blade Morrison, is stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of finding his footing, then having his father barging in to set him back at square one, each and every time. The only comfort he has in his life comes from his girlfriend, Chapel. However, her father strictly prohibits them from dating for the fear that Blade will become like his father, a washed-up rock star and a drug addict. With music as the main guiding force for Blade, he has to reform his life and break out of the vicious cycle holding him back.
Blade’s sister, Storm, helps Blade throughout the book in various ways. She sticks with him in difficult times, and is always by his side regardless of what happens. Blade and Storm have a strong bond which helps them both in tough times, when their father isn’t there, which is often.
The book is written in verse, which helps to set the mood for the first couple of chapters. As the book progresses, the poetic style seen in the beginning slowly starts to drift away and resembles more of something you’d read in a book written regularly. This style compliments the story well, as the beginning of the book is somewhat slow, and focuses on developing the characters and the plot. This poetic style helps to engage and convey the story to the reader.
Kwame did an excellent job transitioning from a poetic style, to a more regular style of writing throughout the book. You don’t notice initially how it affects the story, but as it moves towards the middle of the book, the change in the style of writing helps to make the climax give off more of an impact. With a regular writing style, it can more concisely portray what specific things are occurring in the moment, which can make the reader feel like they’re actually living out the scenario being written. An example of this can be seen when a party is being thrown at Blade’s house. The scene is described with incredible detail, and the events that occur during the party can be clearly envisioned:
Crashes the mic
MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION!
Ever since Storm’s album
The last billboard spot,
He’s dissed her
On social media
Every chance he gets.
But tonight is, by far, the worst.
He gets everyone’s attention,
Mocking Storm’s song
In front of
Her. Entire. Party.
Storm stands there
Ready to strike back. She
Looks at me,
Like i’m supposed
To do something.
Hey Storm, Van hollers, going in for the kill, you should leave your band and sing solo… So low we don’t hear you!
The laughter erupts
Like a chorus
Of mad singers,
And storm runs…
She just runs, knocking over people
In contrast to something more poetic like this:
To be away
From the stage.
He has always craved
Like a drug,
Posing, posturing, profiling
Ann electric prophet, or so he thinks,
Capturing concert concert worshipers
In the vapors of his breath,
As if his voice
Was preparing them
My sister and I
Have always lived
Under the stage
The story itself is quite unique, there were little to no aspects of the story that were similar to any other book I have read previously. For example, the story starts out as a typical, the popular girl dates the famous and at one point Blade impulsively decides to travel to Ghana in an attempt to get away from everyone, to learn more about who he is, and to meet someone special he didn’t even realize was important to him. The story also touches on the struggles many people in the rural parts of Africa face, such as Malaria and a lack of modern technology; which is why diseases like Malaria are so prevalent there.
The story progresses in such a way that each character’s introduction feels natural. Kwame also managed to write each character’s actions in such a way that they always feel meaningful to the story and to the development of themselves. By reading the first half of the book, you can already get a sense of each character’s personality and how they act under certain situations. With Blade for example, you can tell that he’s the type of person to follow through with a plan regardless of the consequences, while also being thoughtful and open minded. For example, Blade got a tattoo of Chapel’s name across his arm, with little preparation beforehand, and also impulsively traveled to Ghana. With Chapel, she loves to live in the moment. Such as when she first met Blade, she took his phone and took a selfie of them with it, then texted herself the photo She also prefers to do things in person, rather than over text.
The only real flaw I found with this book was that Blade and Chapel’s relationship felt like a one you’d find in a cliche high-school themed film. It felt typical in the sense that they were forbidden to see each other. However, this can easily be overlooked because as the book progresses, Chapel becomes less and less relevant to the actual story.
The book also deals with a variety of different subjects, such as alcohol addiction, drug addiction, rehabilitation, disease, and even death. This creates a somewhat realistic setting, as this is what some people actually experience, or have experienced.
Solo is an outstanding book. The story is unique, with little to no aspects that relate to other books I’ve read before. The book is mature, deals with a mixture of different sensitive subjects and manages to make sure it’s not overbearing at the same time. If you enjoy reading unique and out of the ordinary books, with bits of romance and suspense, then Solo is the perfect book for you.
This is a very well-written review. Thank you for sharing. Excuse me, outta my way now as I rush out the door to go but this book!
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is a very well-written review. Thank you for sharing. Excuse me, outta my way now as I rush out the door to go buy this book!
LikeLiked by 2 people