‘RELEASE’ by Patrick Ness

 

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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.

Thanks so much to Walker Books for sending me a copy of RELEASE for review!

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I read both The Rest of Us Just Live Here and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness last year, and I enjoyed both of them so I was highly anticipating his new release. The blurb mentions Mrs Dalloway which I was a bit weary about because (if I’m being honest) I did not like that book. I had to study it for uni last semester and I did everything I could to avoid doing any kind of assessment on it (successfully might I add). I just didn’t get it and I got bored with it. So I was a bit hesitant going into this book, but I kept an open mind and didn’t let that get in the way.

There definitely was similarities between Mrs Dalloway and Release. Despite both of them being set over the course of a day, their narratives and the way that the stories are told are similar. Despite being told in the third person, the readers get Adam’s conscious train of thought throughout the novel. There’s little dialogue, mainly description, and a lot of the time it goes on a bit of a tangent. To be honest, this is one of the things that I didn’t like about Mrs Dalloway, but it didn’t really bother me in Release. I didn’t lose focus and my mind didn’t go wondering because I was bored of the constant chunks of description. It actually kept the story interesting.

But there is so much more to the story than its narrative. The author note at the beginning states that this is an important and personal story to Patrick, and that was evident. Everything felt so real and raw and it added a nice touch to the story. There were so many aspects that panned out Adam’s day. There’s two boys that he loves, his religious family that always look down on him, his boss at work being an a$$, his best friend leaving the country, and probably more that I forgot. There was so much to grasp but it wasn’t overwhelming or confusing.

A list of things that I loved about Release;

  • I fell in love with (most) of the characters and the story despite it only being set over the course of a day
  • I also managed to finish reading it in a day
  • Adam is such a likable character that is going through a lot of crap but is still so precious
  • It has themes of religion but not really the good side of it. Adam’s parents try to love him in spite of being gay and it is one of the struggles that he faces throughout this dreadful day
  • Angela (Adam’s best friend) is THE BEST!
  • It focuses on friendships and how they can be just as much your family than your DNA
  • Complex teenagers just like in the real world
  • It is distressing and heartbreaking (I don’t know about you, but that’s a good thing for me when reading a book)

The part of the book that I didn’t really understand were the chapters that took place in between Adam’s chapters. There was a girl that was killed in the beginning and then she comes back as a ghost (I think) and then there’s a Queen and a faun (I think) and all this other stuff that I didn’t really get. I guess it was magical realism which I usually struggle to understand, so I pretty much just skimmed over those chapters. It was very metaphorical and vague and I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate that. I don’t really understand what it had to do with Adam’s story. This is a good thing (because it didn’t change my thoughts on Adam’s story and therefore it didn’t ruin the book for me) but it’s a bad thing because maybe if I did understand the connection, then I would’ve understood it a bit better. In saying this, it didn’t make me think or feel any less for the story that I read.

Overall, I really enjoyed Release and it was the perfect heartbreaking and emotional, yet important and touching story that I needed. I highly recommend picking it up if you like these kinds of stories, and if you’ve read and enjoyed Patrick’s other books.

Comment below if you’ve read Release and let me know what you think.

P.S. I got invited by Walker Books to go and see an advance media screening of A Monster Calls in a couple weeks. And I cannot wait!

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