3 July 2017

Review #621: Release by Patrick Ness

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“It might be possible that the world itself is without meaning.”

----Virginia Woolf

Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, pens a touching yet enlightening young adult contemporary novel, Release with a touch of magical realism. This book is about a regular gay teenage boy having a very, very bad day one can possibly imagine, from confronting his sexuality to heart breaks to realization to losing someone , whereas on the other hand, it is also about the recent death of a drug addict from the very same town as that of the gay teenager, who has become a ghost and wants revenge on her killer.


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.

Adam Thorn is a 17 year old gay teenager and is having the worst possible day in his entire lifetime. Son of a preacher and belonging from a family of hardcore believer in religion and everything, he faces the challenge to confront about his sexuality to his father and also about the things he went through while going up. Not only that, he faces a lot of harassment from his company's boss and a tragic event takes place that throws him off the road. And it doesn't stop, there, he even gets his heart broken, so with his only best friend, Angela, he now has to fight the battles in one single day. Parallelly, there is another story about a dead drug addict teenage girl, a queen and a fawn, waiting for revenge in that small town on the killer, but the magic is that both the stories run so close to the home, that it seems like they will get entwined into one another. And for that you need to read this book to know that.

This is the very first book that I'm reading by this author. I've had heard only good things about the author, so when I received this book as The Big Book Box's June BOTM, I felt bit excited but not so much, since LGBT books aren't my cup of tea. Yet I read it, felt bit weird, strange and enlightened both at the same time. And I realized that Ness's books are strange, in general, yet I could not comprehend the reason behind that strange story being narrated besides Adam's. Moreover, as a whole the novel lacked depth in more than one places. It is emotionally taut at many places whereas some places, where it needed extreme emotions, it lacked there.

The author's writing style is quite eloquent and is laced with emotions to make the readers feel the story line not just by their minds but also from their hearts. The narrative is engaging whereas the narrative of the ghost story is very dull and vague, makes no sense at all. Moreover, it simply takes away the charm from the original story of Adam Thorn. The pacing is fast, as within few pages, lots of events occur, so it feels more the story breezes or rushes past the readers. The prose of the book is poignant enough to make the readers easily contemplate with the story line.

The characters from the first story are penned with enough realism in their demeanor so that the readers can related to them. Adam, the protagonist, is depicted with extreme depth, laced with enough flaws and failures and I bet, many readers going through his trauma, can easily pertain with Adam. Moreover Adam's story is vividly portrayed amidst of the challenges this tender young man faces through a day. Enough sensitivity is imbibed in each and every line from this book. Whereas the supporting characters fail to shine like Adam, hence the readers need to rely on Adam's perspectives to form an opinion upon his friends, family and foes. The characters from the ghosts story are confusing and makes no sense at all. There was no point of the ghost story as the main story of Adam mentioned about that drug addict teenager's death only once or twice.

The author has strikingly illustrated so many current day teenage problems in a way the young readers can easily correlate to them. Problems raging from teenage friendships, heartbreaks, love affair, gay sex, religious notions, grief and many other such issues, painted and laced with enough emotions to make the readers feel for it. There is quite vivid description of gay sex and the author has left very little to readers' imaginations, the only thing it lacked was the necessary passion to evoke the emotions. Hence it felt quite mechanical to me.

In a nutshell, its a good book minus the ghost story, otherwise, its a little hard to digest.

Verdict: Engrossing yet it has its own flaws and dull edges. I would not recommend it strongly.

Courtesy: June's BOTM of The Big Book Box subscription service.

Author Info:
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.
He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.
Visit him here

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  1. I’ve only read 1 Patrick Ness book, and I loved it, so I’m looking forward to reading this one. I have heard that his work is very strange. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. The Chaos Walking trilogy is amazing as is A Monster Calls, but i wasn't a fan of his More Than This though. Will definitely give this one a read to see how I feel about it. I do love his beautiful writing style and his passionate storylines.

    1. Thank you dear for your kind words, it means a lot to me


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