Reviewed by: Delonya Conyers
San Dora correctional facility not only houses convicted criminals it also maintains several lawbreakers on its payroll. With corruption reaching as far as the warden it's almost as if the wolves are guarding the hen house. Jazz a correction officer assigned to San Dora is down to get paid by any means necessary and can't look past an opportunity to do just that when her best friend Mia literally has some weight placed at her feet. Jazz knows the street value of the product pales in comparison to its value behind bars. So Jazz puts a plan into effect that will help them to dominate not only the block but the cell block as well!
With Mia and her brother Escalade's assistance the trio is definitely on the come-up. But in a prison with so much corruption it isn't long before Jazz's operation steps on the toes of the other drug rings. Things heat up so much behind the walls that a full fledged riot ensues bringing out not only the National Guards but the Governor and his elite special ops team. But unbeknownst to Jazz and her crew or even the warden for that matter is that San Dora was already under investigation and an informant has been strategically placed behind the walls to help clean up the corruption. Once the riot begins and loyalties are revealed everyone will be left scrambling to ensure that they won't end up residing on the other side of the bars.
Author Ben has an excellent premise with his novel Up The Way. Corruption behind bars is not only plausible but factual however what hinders the novel is the implausible fashion in which it is explored. None of the characters or the situations they were conveniently placed in were believable. In an attempt to portray the characters as "bout it" their actions were way over the top leading readers to wondering as to "Where they do that at?"
One example in point is at the press conference the Governor holds after entering the prison with his special ops crew. He was questioned as to why would he risk his own life entering the prison and part of his response was that the warden owed him $20. He went on to talk to the cameras with a special message to the warden that he better have his money! Up The Way is riddled with many more instances of absurdity that detract from what could have been an entertaining read.
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Reviewed by: Kisha Green
Up the Way starts off with main character, Malik who is a street hustler. One day he meets a beauty on a bus and before he can even get to know her or her name, he is arrested and sent to San Dora Correctional Facility.
The mystery beauty is Mia and she has recently been hired as a new Correctional Officer at San Dora and unbeknownst to either of them, they are linked in more ways than one. Mia gets the job as result of her good friend, Jazz and she is teaching her the ropes and the ins and outs of the job.
Mia realizes that there is a lot of corruption that goes on behind bars from the warden down to the inmates and it is a kill or be killed mentality. Meanwhile, Mia seems to be sexually confused. She flirts with a coworker, Snow White. Based on flirting and intimacy, one would believe Mia has chosen to be with a woman, until she is reunited with Malik. Suddenly, she is head over heels in love. It makes you wonder who does she love or rather who does she really want to be with.
Up The Way shows you the day in the life of female correction officers and what they have to deal with from the prisoners and their superiors. Up The Way gives you a glimpse into drug trafficking from the prison and how everyone is “bout it." From the inside, you have Malik, Born and Ahkar handling business just like they would if they were on the streets. Outside of the prison walls, you have Escalade and DB. The crew’s operation runs smoothly but because of jealousy and greed things start to take a turn for the worst. People's actions start to look suspect.
Up The Way was a good read but at time it was confusing because of all of the extra characters but by the conclusion of the story readers understand how they are all tied together. Readers are introduced to characters and though they serve a purpose, the motive for some of their actions were unclear.
Overall, Up The Way was an enjoyable book. In some areas, the storyline seemed too good to be true, but it didn’t take away from the book. It just made you want to continue reading to see what would happen next. Nothing was what it seemed or appeared so, this made the book slightly suspenseful.
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