Release by Patrick Ness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 9th, 2017
Point of View: 3rd Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary, Family, Weird Ghosts
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.
I’m not unfamiliar with Patrick Ness, which is why I expected this book to be strange, weird even, possibly befuddling. But it was actually very comprehensible and not out of the ordinary, if I don’t take in account the random revengeful ghost.
Having read neither Judy Bloom’s ‘‘Forever’’ nor Virginia Woolf’s ‘‘Mrs. Dalloway,’’ I had no idea what kind of beast ‘‘Release’’ would turn out to be. If there are references to those two novels, I didn’t get them. All I know is that there are two intertwined stories in this book—a ghost’s and a teenage gay boy’s who is having the Worst Day Ever.
I liked Adam just fine. I feel as though it’s easier to connect with characters that show their flaws and vulnerable side to the reader, and Adam does that fairly often. His friends and foes—and family—are not so open. We know close to nothing about them. It’s more about how they affect Adam and how Adam perceives them. We do not get their sides of the story.
That’s okay. It’s not preferable, but this is a short enough novel and Adam is having the Worst Day Ever, so let’s not ask too much of him. His entourage is about to leave him—leaves Linus, whom he knows not what to do with. He’s his boyfriend, but then again, is he really in love with him? So there are things Adam must figure out on this dreadful day.
Patrick Ness surprised me. The story is mainly focused on Adam and his various relationships—romantic, friendship and family-related. Since Adam is gay and his family is super-religious, this is a taboo subject in his family. But he, himself, is pretty comfortable with his way of life. In fact, the author discusses his sex life very openly, leaving little intimate details for the reader to figure out. That surprised me. It’s a good thing, especially since the topics—sex, masturbating, unrequited love—discussed are relevant to teenagers and many YA authors do not go that far.
I would definitely decapitate the ghost if given the chance, because she is irrelevant and only a distraction to the main story. What were you thinking, Patrick Ness? The characters didn’t even care about the dead girl. She is mentioned maybe once or twice—extremely briefly—in total. Come on.
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