Review: Release (Patrick Ness)

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Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books
Series: Standalone
Publication date: May 4th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 287

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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.

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“It was so much easier to be loved than to have to do any of the desperate work of loving.”

I must admit, I was a little bit reluctant to read another Ness book after not enjoying The Rest of Us Just Live Here. But I couldn’t resist that amazing cover and because I loved A Monster’s Call so much, I wanted to give Ness a third chance.

I’m glad I did because I truly enjoyed this gem!

Release is, as mentioned at the back, one of Ness’ most tender and personal novels yet. And it resonates so well with what happens in the book and how Adam is portrayed throughout. The feels you’ll get reading this and the thoughts you’ll have along the way indicates how poignant and emotionally deep Release is.

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Let’s appreciate how well Patrick Ness has weaved the every day life of Adam and the paranormal settings of a ghost rising from the lake. His effortless writing which includes a mythical creature, a Queen of the Underworld and the ghost aforementioned grips you in even harder into this book and makes you wonder how this situation could even work out.

The whole genre of this book got me baffles because while it feels like a YA novel, it has paranormal/fantasy /thriller elements to it that doesn’t quite lean into that spectrum, but feels like it does somehow…? But regardless, the plot was just great. I finished this book within 4 days and felt what a quick read this was. I was on my toes figuring out how things will end, and felt mildly surprised by the ending. It was perfect and suited the book really well.

The feels of this book are beyond what I expected. I was fairly surprised that this is an LGBT book. I haven’t read much LGBT YA books because the ones I read were a tiny bit cheesy in the romance department. But Release allowed us to look deeply into Adam’s emotional struggles as he comes to terms with his family and his relationships. Whether it’s with his devout Christian parents and brother, or ex-boyfriend Enzo, we see how he found self-acceptance and the strength to deal with life and move on after all the heartbreak inflicted by both parties.

“They’re your parents. They’re meant to love you because. Never in spite.”  

This book felt very matured, not only in the explicit sexual contents (so be warned!), but in the emotional questions posed by Adam in discovering his true family and how sometimes you just live the life you’re given…

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Adam is such a wonderful character and I love his sense of maturity, vulnerability and sensitivity to the world around him. His friendship with his best friend, Angela, a Korean-American with Dutch parents is pretty much the highlight in this book for me! While people questioned the Asian sidekick-trope going on in YA novels recently, it didn’t feel that way in Release as Angela played as much as Adam the main character in this book. You’ll immediately fall in love with her and all of her brilliant quotes!

“Never pass up the chance to be kissing someone. It’s the worst kind of regret.”  

The other characters are amazingly written as well. You see the true struggle of coming out to devout Christian parents like Adam’s, and I find this could be relatable to so many teens. With no strong family support, it is easy to feel lost and question your every decision.

And I don’t mean this just for the LGBT teens…

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Overall, this book was a brilliant take into the struggles of a teen finding himself and believing he made the right choices in a world set in their ways of pre-approved choices which clashed with his. The strength to challenge and bring new change is something that we could all relate with Adam. Our troubles and vulnerabilities shouldn’t be the only things keeping us in the way of embracing ourselves, and Release reminds us of that.

Even when ghosts rise from lakes and threaten to destroy your whole world and mankind as it is….

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