Book Reviews

Review: Release by Patrick Ness

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A startling and tender novel about how to let yourself love and set yourself free by Patrick Ness, the twice Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. Today will change Adam Thorn’s life. Between his religious family, unpleasant boss and his ex-boyfriend, the bindings of his world are coming undone. And way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake. Is there time for Adam to find his release?”

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Recommended for: 14+

Themes: LGBTQIA+ identity and acceptance, family relationships, sex and consent, religion, drugs

A dual narrative, one strand of this novel follows a day in the life of Adam Thorn- and a pretty bad day it is. The other narrative is an intriguing ghost story about a dead girl named Katie. Both deal with issues of relationships and family, the former also with the difficulty of being gay in a small town – especially when your dad is an Evangelical Christian preacher.

Ness, in his usual style, deals head-on with the YA themes of acceptance and identity. Adam’s storyline follows his day as things go from one bad event to another, starting with having to buy flowers for his mother and ending with something life-changing. Katie’s story is a reverse-telling of just how she ended up in a lake with bricks in her pockets.

At times poignant, at times bordering on explicit, Ness manages to deal with difficult issues without being twee or laboured. He doesn’t shy away from the realities of teenage life, including teenage sex life. I found myself empathising more and more with Adam as the story and his day went on, and the two narratives are cleverly woven together throughout.

A read I would definitely recommend to young LGBTQIA+ readers, as long as you’re ready to read about sexual relationships.

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