Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: May 4th 2017
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Release is a story set over the course of just one day. We follow Adam Thorne as he runs errands for his parents, heads off to work, and makes plans with his friends for a get-together, but we also follow Adam as he tries to accept the changes that come along all on this one day. Changes that bring with them heartbreak and love and fear and disgust.
Adam is preparing to say good bye to his ex, a boy he still loves, and add that to the fact that he’s still hiding the fact that he is gay from his parents, who will never accept that part of him, means that he isn’t happy. However as Adam tries to deal with everything this one day throws at him – revelations from his brother, ultimatums from his manager, news from his best friend – something has woken from the lake; something that, if it doesn’t return by sunset, spells the end of the world.
The Queen is trapped within a lost soul, searching for answers, for vengeance, for the person responsible. Her guardian walks alongside her, struggling to pull the Queen and the spirit apart so the world can be restored again, but as the Queen sinks deeper and deeper into Katie’s life and her death it becomes harder for her to leave the spirits journey unfinished.
Release is as impossible to sum up as Patrick Ness’s other books, it is almost two stories wrapped up in one. The first story, Adam’s story, is one about love. It’s about accepting heartbreak and moving forwards, about family and loss and so many other human parts of life. The Queen’s story is full of magic and something more mystical, but at the same time it’s a story about vengeance, acceptance and finding a home again.
Adam is a brilliantly written and wonderfully developed character. He’s basically what I’ve come to expect from Patrick Ness’s stories. His whole life Adam has been different from his family, he knows his parents prefer his perfect older brother, Marty, and as such Adam has been cast in the role of the Prodigal Son. Adam is the one who strays from his families and Gods path, but they hope one day he will return home to their faith.
The relationship Adam has with his family is a complicated one. He knows his parents will never accept that he is gay. A small town preacher and his wife they each have very close minded views of homosexuality so even though they likely know, and Adam suspects they likely know, it’s a subject no one dares acknowledge. Adam accepts who his parents are, their beliefs and their way of life, but they can’t do the same for him and it causes a divide between them all.
Despite not having a close relationship with his family Adam does have a close relationship with his best friend, Angela. The two confide in each other about everything, and Angela has become Adam’s family, the person he leans on when things are tough and the person he keeps no secrets from. Their friendship is something solid Adam can rely on no matter what, and the bond between Adam and Angela is the kind of close knit friendship I’d love to see more of in YA books.
The relationship Adam has with Enzo his ex, and Linus, his current boyfriend, define this story as much as his relationship with his parents and his friendship with Angela do. At his heart Adam doesn’t fully understand what love is, and hasn’t had the best role models to teach him what it’s supposed to feel like. All the emotions Adam feels weigh strongly on him but he doesn’t know what he wants so he muddles along, making a mess of his feelings and then trying to make everything right again.
The Queen is a character we only get small glimpses of in between Adam’s story, and we never truly understand her character the way we do Adam’s. She is an enigma; powerful, eternal, necessary, but at the same time there is so much of the spirit in her that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
While Release was a really good book I expected more from the story and from Patrick Ness. Individually I loved reading Adam’s story and loved reading the Queen’s journey, but together I was left with too many questions at the end. I really enjoyed Patrick Ness’s earlier books, where the whole story was steeped in indescribable magic as we explored new worlds, but I feel like there’s something missing from his newer books where the magic only barely touches the main characters.
What did you think of Release? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.