RELEASE is my first Patrick Ness book. I have been interested in reading his books for a while since they all seem to be so popular. I can see why since the subject matter conquered in this story is important. Combine that with his descriptive scene details, depth of characters, and easy to follow dialogue and you have one hell of a good story. Unfortunately, this was not a five star read for me. Let me try to explain why.
Adam Thorne is having a tough adolescence. He is in unrequited love with a boy who cast him aside without just cause. The boy he is seeing is a really great guy, but also famously gay and so Adam must keep their relationship a secret. Adam’s father is a church minister and his whole family is very against homosexuality. It wouldn’t be so bad if they at least liked him, but they all treat him like the red-haired step child and his straight brother like the prodigal son. In a matter of just one day all of these situations will collide for Adam. Secrets will be revealed and people will be seen for who they really are.
That all sounds great right? I have to admit that I loved Adam’s story. I couldn’t even imagine what being a gay preacher’s son would be like but this book allowed me to see how uncomfortable and hypocritical it could be. At one time Adam really loved God and throughout the story he struggles with that love since his very nature is spoken against in the bible. Not to get too into the religion of this story, I have to say that this was well done. Be you a believer or not, you shouldn’t be offended by anything in Adam’s story.
Adam has some real emotional support in this story in the form of his best friend who is a bi-female (whom I can’t remember the name of) and his secret boyfriend Linus. These two act in different ways to strengthen and encourage Adam to face the things he must in order to be free. I loved Linus as an out and proud gay guy, but I also loved how patient he was with Adam.
The author did something really bold here for a YA novel and actually talked about the sex. Not just sex, but gay male sex! Bravo Mr. Ness for breaching this uncharted territory! Just like Judy Bloom’s FOREVER was in my generation for straight girls who were curious, so RELEASE is for homosexual young males. Patrick Ness tells the whole story for the reader and leaves little to the imagination.
The elephant in the room (or this book as the case may be), is the “ghost story” being told in alternate chapters throughout this book. This fantastical story about a girl who was first strangled and then weighed down to drown in the town’s lake.It was not well told. It has something to do with drugs and a teenage girl’s death.It is horrible, but it really had no business in this book. This part of the book tells the story of a ghost of a girl, a queen or a fawn, who seeks revenge and ultimately freedom. I didn’t enjoy that part of this book at all but I powered through it hoping it would somehow connect to Adam and his tale. Now let’s just say I wish I would have just skipped over those chapters.
Well other than that stupid ghost story, I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. I was torn between 3 and 4 stars honestly. I am rating up because I have high hopes for this book. I have no one in my immediate circle that would really benefit from Adam’s story in this book. I think even straight YA readers will enjoy this. Since I really do think this is a Judy Bloom FOREVER kind of book, I am sending out a thousand wishes that this read ends up in the right hands and helps someone.
Obviously, there was a cover change at some point for this book. Walker Books previously released this but, HarperTeen is re-releasing this book on September 19, 2017, so I am going with that cover for this review.
Release by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on September 19th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Coming of Age, Social Themes, Friendship, LGBT
eARC provided by HarperTeen
Inspired by Judy Blume’s Forever and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, this novel that Andrew Smith calls “beautiful, enchanting, [and] exquisitely written” is a new classic about teenage relationships, self-acceptance—and what happens when the walls we build start coming down.
Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.
Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.
But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.
From the New York Times bestselling author of A Monster Calls comes a raw, darkly funny, and deeply affecting story about the courage it takes to live your truth.