“Death is not the end.”
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
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.
TW: Sexual Assault at one point (not graphic)
Patrick Ness has once again left me speechless. Somehow with every new book he manages to write there’s a new aspect that makes it completely and utterly unique – yet still obvious that it’s written by him. Despite Ness’ natural affinity for intriguing and exciting writing; engaging plot lines and relatable characters, there’s always also that special something in his books that makes it so much more. In the case of Release, this was the fact that two stories were told at once; all in the space of one book.
The main plot line of Release is going through a day in the life of Adam where everything seems to be going wrong. You know how usually character arcs develop in books as the story progresses over a multitude of weeks if not months/years? Well, Ness has managed to achieve that all in the span of 24 hours. Adam goes through so many different things in this one day, that it should feel unnatural or forced, but it didn’t!
The (sort of) secondary plot line is told every few chapters with chapters of its own. It tells another story of a spirit and a powerful being who conjoin by accident at the spirit’s death and go throughout the book seeking revenge from someone. The writing for these chapters was really poetic and if anything ethereal? I love the way that magic and fantasy was incorporated into a book which would have otherwise been a contemporary (which isn’t a bad thing!)
It was really interesting to see how Adam handled (sort of) coming out to his very religious parents – it showed a side of coming out that isn’t usually portrayed in novels. His parents don’t want him to be gay but are still trying to ‘find’ a way to love him. The possibility of Adam reconciling with or hating his parents is never shown – there are a few things in this book which the reader is left thinking about. I really liked this for some reason despite the fact that I usually hate this.
Overall, this book is essentially about releasing (get it) and letting go and moving on. It shows just how much can happen in one day and is an emotional read which at multiple times nearly had me in tears despite it not actually being that sad. I completely devoured this in one read and had it completed in a few hours!