Book Reviews

Review: Release

Review: ReleaseRelease by Patrick Ness
on January 1st 1970
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288

Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches...

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

Patrick Ness is the kind of author that inspires absolute devotion in his fans, but I’ve always felt like a bit of an outcast.  I read and enjoyed The Knife of Never Letting Go in June 2015 but not so much that I’ve finished the rest of the series since. Release isn’t necessarily the sort of thing I’d usually pick up, but I do love LGBT fiction, and I was determined to try something else by Patrick Ness.

Release has two plotlines – Adam’s and an interlinking supernatural story.  I absolutely adored Adam’s story, which was fast-paced and gripping, but also managed to be touching and heart-felt and romantic.  The supernatural storyline on the other hand, didn’t work for me at all, even though I’m normally a fantasy fan.  It felt too distant, too unrelated, and there were times when I resented having to leave Adam’s story for the distinctly slower supernatural element.  While I might have enjoyed the storyline interesting as a primary plot with some more fleshing out, the two plotlines just didn’t connect well for me.

He was a nerd, like Renee and Karen said, but nerdiness – like a big nose, like a belly – was never any barrier to cuteness.

Adam is great, as are the supporting characters.  Ness has captured that feeling of ‘otherness’, of awkwardness, of self-doubt that is easy to feel as a teen.  I found him instantly likeable, and I sympathised with him from page one until the end of the story.  Angela is supportive, and hilarious, and I absolutely loved the relationship between the two of them.  Angela is a character with feelings and thoughts and problems of her owns, not just a side-kick best friend who exists only to prop the protaganist up, which I really liked.

What if there was some tiny, tiny fault in the first building blocks of who he was, and everything since that first moment of life was just papering over an essential crack? And he was just a carapace built on a facade built on scaffolding and there was no real core to him, no real central worth?

Release is a quick read that I easily got through in a day because I didn’t want to put it down.  The characters are great, the pacing is good, the conflict is dramatic and heart-wrenching and impossible not to get invested in.  I liked the romance and it was such a nice change to see a teen contemporary (especially with a gay romance) that just doesn’t have every romantic scene fade to black, or shy away from the realities that sex (teen or otherwise) can sometimes be messy, or funny, or awkward.  Unfortunately though, while those things are all true of Adam’s storyline, the book does also have the supernatural plot, which I didn’t really love.  That makes it really difficult to rate the book, but I think overall, even in spite of the supernatural storyline, I was left overall with an impression of having really enjoyed it.  The fact that the book is short probably helps, because it meant that although I found the supernatural plot a bit dull, each section was so short it wasn’t long before I was back to the story I really cared about.

Rating Report
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