Author: Patrick Ness
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 4th May 2017
Pages: 287, paperback
Genre: YA, contemporary, LGBTQ+
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.
Ever since I first heard about this book, I was massively excited to read it. As is pretty much 100% of the bookish community. So you can imagine how totally over the moon I was when my sister received an ARC of Release from the bookstore she works for, and so I was able to read it last week as part of the SundayYAthon.
Although, I have a confession to make: this is the first book I have read by Patrick Ness. I know, I’m a terribly person and a shoddy reader – I’ve had his books on my TBR for too long now, and just not gotten around to any of them! So this was my first impression of a Patrick Ness book, and let me tell you: it was stunning.
I loved the structure of this book. Basically, the book takes place on a single day, and it is split into the different events that occur throughout that day – at the very start of the novel, Adam mentions everything he wants to get done it that day, and then the book follows that course. For example, one section focuses on Adam’s run, and another on a going away party.
This links with another thing I loved about this book, which is that it didn’t feel at all rushed, despite the fact it took place in such a short amount of time. This is because not everything happened in that day, it was more that everything accumulated on that particular day. The events leading up to it were included in the novel seamlessly and at exactly the right moments so there was that perfect balance, which prevented the book from information-dumping, or being hard to follow.
There were such important messages threaded throughout this book. Obviously, this story focuses on Adam’s sexuality, so that is a key part of the book. I also thought the additional element of religion, and the way each of Adam’s very religious family members respond to Adam’s sexuality. It also touches briefly on a form of victim-blaming, which I thought was really interesting and an important thing to talk about, even if for only a small portion of the book.
The contrast between Adam’s family and friends was really powerful. I absolutely adored his friends (especially his best friend), a lot of whom he is already out to. I found myself very emotionally involved in this book and the characters, and so I was completely absorbed in both the good and bad elements of Adam’s life and relationships with other people.
Personally found the ghost side-plot a bit unnecessary. It was very interesting (inspired by Mrs Dalloway), and added a slightly quirky edge to the story, but the ghost was almost entirely separate from Adam and his story. That said, it was very well written, and I suspect that many other people will absolutely adore it!
Release is a must-read, although I’m sure most of you know that already. Patrick Ness has a flawless writing style and every time I picked up this book I became completely enthralled in the story and struggled to put it down!