I have struggled to write this book review, but this is not because I did not enjoy this book, it is just really difficult to sum up without revealing tons of spoilers about what happens. This book is beautifully written, so I have also been intimidated that anything I write will not be able to convey just how beautiful this book is. Ness is a must-buy author for me, because he writes beautiful and complicated stories that pull the reader in from the first page. Release is another beautiful story.
Release occurs over the course of one day and follows Adam Thorn as his life unravels around him. Adam has a difficult relationship with his family; he feels like the inferior son when compared to his practically perfect brother, and is unable to talk to his family about his sexuality. Adam’s father is a preacher and his whole family are intolerant regarding homosexuality; creating a divide that exacerbates Adam’s feelings of isolation from them.
However, Adam does have a true friend in Angela – and this is the sort of friendship that I would like to see more of in YA books. I just love Adam and Angela’s relationship. They laugh, cry, support and challenge each other. It is so genuine and contrasts so precisely with Adam’s relationship with his own family.
Release does not just follow Adam on this day, there is also a supernatural, mystical story that runs alongside. At times I could not see how this linked back to Adam’s story and found myself trying to guess how the stories would intertwine. Will it be the next chapter? What is going to happen when they meet? I think this was a mistake on my part and I would suggest trying not to do this – just let each story play out in its own way, trust that Ness will resolve the stories satisfactorily.
This book deals with a large number of really important issues, but they are handled in a sensitive way. Ness is a master at not over-simplifying the issues and does not shy away from tackling emotional topics in a realistic way. There is a confrontation between Adam and his father that is difficult to witness and left me frustrated and tearful, but it was achingly real.
But Release is not a depressing story, there are moments of pure joy along the way. This is a story of acceptance, both of yourself and of diversity. It is about heartbreak and loss, about retribution, about complicated lives, about messy families, about letting go, about starting over. Ness packs a lot into a really short book, and my only complaint is that I wished that there had been even more book to read.
This is a really beautifully crafted book from Ness. He manages to weave together two apparently unrelated stories, which come together to make an uplifting book. Yes, it is a roller-coaster ride and there are some real lows, but I was left feeling resoundingly hopeful in the end.
Have you read Release? Have you read any other books by Patrick Ness? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
See you soon