Book Review: Release by Patrick Ness

Release by Patrick Ness (published 4th May 2017) takes place during a single day in the life of young protagonist Adam Thorne, the day that changes his life forever. 

Adam is a teenage boy living in a rural town outside Washington with his intensely conservative and religious family, whom he is forced to keep his sexuality (and boyfriend) a secret from.

Adam experiences countless challenges throughout the day, including a harrowing incident at work and a long overdue, fiery confrontation with his minister Father, among other things.

Though Release is mostly set in the real world, it wouldn't be Ness without some hint of magical realism, and though Adam may feel like his world is ending, in Ness' subplot it really might!

Juxtaposed with Adam's story is the story of the ghost of a local murdered girl wandering his town in search of justice and release. She manages to unintentionally possess the body of an immensely powerful nature spirit, making her a danger to both the inhabitants of the town and the world at large, if the pair don't separate by sunset.

Release is tender, funny, sad and beautifully told. Ness' writing is poetic, honest, personal, and he certainly doesn't shy away from taboo topics. Release is poignant for all teenagers as a coming of age novel, tackling the themes of friendship, sexuality, young love, family and self acceptance.

While I loved Release and sped through the novel without putting it down once, I definitely found Ness' second narrative weaker and less compelling than Adam's story, which is undoubtedly the star and main focus of the novel. The two narratives could also have flowed together more smoothly, at times it was difficult to connect them as one story and jarring to switch from one to the other.

However, no one can deny that there is something infinitely special about Ness' writing, and Release is no exception. Moving, heartbreaking and ultimately optimistic, I'd go so far as to label Release as one of the best YA titles of the year (and I'm aware it's only April, but that's just how good it is!)

Order your copy of Release by Patrick Ness here.

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