AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Fantasy
RATING: 4/5 Stars
Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.
Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.
But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.
What I Liked:
- It's amazing that a book set over the course of just one day could prove to be so interesting and keep my attention for so long! But it really does, and for good reason - this story is one of Ness' best. It's heartrending and real and hauntingly beautiful and I really fell in love with it from start to finish. I am of course talking about all parts of the story set around Adam's life. I'll get to the other bit later. Adam's POV was complex, but I really got it. And this is the best portrayal of gay relationships, breakups, sex, and the 'coming out' experience I have ever read.
- The success of this story came largely down to characterisation and despite my worries after not liking them particularly in my last Ness read, 'The Rest Of Us Just Live Here' they more than made up for it in 'Release'. Adam's family is dated in their views and very religious, but doesn't fall into obvious stereotypes. Adam himself is not perfect, but is likeable and vulnerable which I like in a protagonist. Adam's friends, particularly Angela, are the kind of friends I want in my life. Linus is a-dork-able and patient and ACK! And even Enzo, despite being the one who broke Adam's heart, is still sad and relatable in some ways. I loved them all, good or bad.
What I Disliked:
- Okay so here's where things get 'sigh-worthy' for me. Because Adam's story alone could easily have won a five star rating from me. But unfortunately, Ness made a very bizarre decision - to include a very meaningless, unrelated fantasy story that revolves around the murder of a local girl they reference a couple of times and a seven foot deer that only makes me thing of the Forest God in Princess Mononoke. Why? I have no idea? Did it impact Adam's journey? Not really. Did it serve as a deeper way of understanding Adam's story? No - it really just confused me. Was it even a good story in it's own right? No again - the language was very basic in comparison, it was a bit repetitive, super weird and felt like a middle with no beginning, no satisfying end, and certainly no explanation. So why was it there then? I have no idea. But it cost Ness a precious star (it almost brought my rating right down|) and made me feel a bit disappointed as a result.
Two thirds of this book really impressed me, to the point of almost making this my favourite Patrick Ness read and favourite read of the month! But that one third really let this book down. It felt very out of place, and whatever purpose it was supposed to serve I felt it failed because I did not have a clue as to why it was there. It's such a shame. I would recommend this book still because I adored Adam's segments so much. Great focus on LGBT relationships, great character development and relationships, and even great plot direction. Without the weird spirits and dead body coming back to life for no reason whatsoever it would have been a hit with me for sure!