Review: Release

Release by Patrick Ness is his tenth book. I have only read A Monster Calls by the same author but my amazon basket has pretty much all of his novels in waiting for the funds to buy them!

Release takes place over the course of a day, an important life changing day, for 18yo Adam Thorne in Frome, Washington. Adam is the gay son of a religious minister and his day starts by driving to pick flowers up for his mother. Over the course of the day, things go from bad, to worse, to awful and then, when he snaps against the injustice of it all. However, there is a pressure on the day that Adam isn’t aware of, something has risen from the lake and they have until sundown before this world, and the next, implodes.

Adam has some deep seated personal issues around his sexuality and ability to love. His ex-boyfriend practically haunts him even as he has moved on with Linus (who is an adorable, quirky character) and his best friend Angela is extremely judgemental towards those who she thinks have wronged Adam. The characters, all of them, feel painfully real – I’m pretty sure I know a Linus, and a Martin, and I think a friend would argue I am an Angela. And I think therein lies the true magic of the book – it feels real. This poor kid is having a helluva day and it shows how hugely insecure he is.

The nature of the small town means that everyone is aware of Adam’s sexuality without his ever coming out, but he still tries to hide it in some respects. His parents ignore it and hope it will just go away, his brother accuses, Angela sets him up with people and gets angry if anyone dare say anything against Adam, Adam included. His ex-boyfriend is a jerk. It’s an emotional coming of age, and coming to full terms and acceptance about sexuality and family relationships. And it is powerful.

Adam is described frequently as being tall, a big person, but I get the feeling in the first half of the book that he feels so small, insignificant, unimportant. Over the pages, he seems to grow from a boy who is terrified of being abandoned into coming into his own, and standing up for himself.

It features very no-nonsense descriptions of gay sex, and Angela and Adam have more than one frank discussion about sex and sexuality. This book is apparently related to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, however, as I haven’t read either of them I can’t pass comment.

Release is about identity, religion, bullying, harassment, sexual identity, love, belonging and family. The secondary supernatural plot involves a girl murdered by her boyfriend rising from the lake she died in to see retribution or something from those who wronged her. It took me a good few chapters to work out what the point of the Fae storyline was, but it is a good magical contrast when it does click!

I am looking forward to re-reading this one! It left me a little emotionally raw at the end, not quite full A Monster Calls emotional, but the sort of fist bump you tell em kind of emotional. It was very good, very heart-wrenching and felt almost painfully honest.

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