Monday 14 August 2017

Release by Patrick Ness | Spoiler-Free Review

Release by Patrick Ness
Published by Walker Books
Release date: 4th May 2017
Source: proof copy from Walker Books.
I received this book for free from Walker Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

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.

Themes: LGBT, family, friendship.

My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

When I heard that this book was coming out at the Walker Books Christmas party, I audibly gasped. For some reason I had no clue that Patrick Ness was even writing this and it came as the most pleasant surprise. Patrick Ness is one of my auto-buy authors, I've read almost everything he's written and will continue to do so. So when a proof of Release fell through my letterbox, you can bet I was more then excited.

Release is contemporary, with just a dash of fantasy, that follows seventeen year old Adam Thorn over the course of one single day. I went into Release knowing little more than this and I believe that you should too. Like most of Ness' books, I devoured this book in just a couple of short sittings and it definitely achieved what I've come to expect of Ness's work.

As a Virginia Woolf fan, the opening line, 'Adam would have to get the flowers himself', immediately made me smile. It instantly placed me in the right frame of mind to read the almost stream-of-consciousness style. To set a novel over the course of a single day is ambitious, narratively speaking, as the reader is thrown directly into the character's point of view with no slow build to create empathy, and the writer has the events of just one day to drive the narrative forward. It is a challenge that Ness rises to with apparent ease and ultimately succeeds in. Ness' smooth and confidential writing style allowed me to connect with Adam straight away and his finely tuned world felt very real.

Ness' dialogue is hilarious, sharply written and realistic. It's often a criticism of YA that the characters' dialogue is overwritten and beyond their years, this isn't the case with Release. Adam is a thoughtful and emotional character whose thoughts and immediate concerns felt natural and realistic and all the side characters, despite only being seen through Adam's perspective, were well-developed and interesting.

It took me a little longer to connect with the fantasy narrative that is spliced between Adam's chapters, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I've almost come to expect that small dash of fantasy in Ness' novels and it was aligned just enough with the main plot so that it didn't feel too out of place.

The complexity of the relationships in Adam Thorn's life are explored so deftly and beautifully, especially considering the novel's single-day narrative. If you're a fan of Ness, or you just want to escape into a gorgeously crafted novel that is a touch above your standard YA, then Release is the book for you.

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