Review: Release by Patrick Ness

An incredible day-in-the-life of Adam Thorn, as told by my all-time favourite author.

Release summary

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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Release review

I can safely say that Patrick Ness is my all-time favourite author. His books are all so unique and exquisitely written, each blowing me away without fail.

Release is no exception: I loved it so much. From the very first to the very last page, I felt the meaning behind every word. It’s clear that Patrick Ness has put his heart and soul into this one, and I’m sure that it means a lot to him too.

Release is set over just one day, which is pretty amazing. There’s lots packed in – it’s an eventful day that’s for sure – but it’s realistic in every way. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get to know the characters enough in a book that’s set over just 24 hours, but I fell in love with all of them and hated others just the same.

I’m not a gay, or a teenager, or a boy, so I can’t directly relate to what Adam went through.  I do, however, think it’s fantastic that Ness has created something so wonderful to help anyone discovering their sexuality and coming to terms with it. There’s not an ounce of sugar-coating, and Ness hasn’t been afraid to go there when it comes to sex, either.

I imagine that anyone that can directly relate to Adam will find this book so comforting. It’ll reassure them that they’re not alone, and that in itself is so important.

I wasn’t as big a fan of the parts of the books that told Katherine’s story. She was murdered in a horrible drug-related incident and her “ghost” spends the day visiting people that affected her life and trying to find her “release” just like Adam.

Katherine and Adam’s story kind of comes together in the end, and I loved that Ness was brave enough to experiment with adding a fantasy element like this one into an otherwise contemporary novel, but I often found myself missing Adam during these chapters and I’m not sure how much they really added to the story.

I will forever be excited about what Patrick Ness comes up with next. If you haven’t already read anything by him, I’d recommend starting with More Than This and going from there. But if you have, rest assured that Ness doesn’t disappoint with Release, and I urge you to read it as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.

My rating

***** 5/5 stars

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Every Day by David Levithan

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson



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