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What: Release by Patrick Ness

Who: Walker Books

When: May 4th 2017

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Walker Books Australia for review.

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.

Release is a very particular kind of book, and I think people are either going to LOVE it, or kind of just… not get it. I would really love to say that I fall into the LOVE category, but sadly I fall more into the ‘don’t get it’ one.

This book is told from two perspectives over the course of one entire day. I absolutely loved the pacing of this book. Sometimes a whole day in a book consists of one singular conversation, and I am always left wondering what the heck happened the rest of the day. But with Release, there was none of that because it was just one day. This could have possibly gone terribly wrong, but it didn’t. It felt real, and there were some flashbacks given to provide context for relationships, which was a nifty way to keep to the one day timeline.

I didn’t love the main character, Adam. And I think that’s the main reason that I didn’t love Release as a whole. I was waiting to fall in love with his character – I was waiting for that emotional connection. But neither of those things came. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t care about him because I did. But I just wasn’t standing by the sideline waving ‘Adam’ banners and screaming. I was more of a casual passerby.

The times in which I felt most connected to Adam were when things were going to shit. I loathed his family – they were a bunch of horrible asshats. And when his father was being homophobic and disbelieving Adam when he said he was being sexually harassed by his boss at work I was livid. But I am always livid when queer characters have to deal with this bullshit, especially from their parents.

I think the fact that Adam went through a lot of personal changes and character growth over one day. It never felt unrealistic or rushed, which was pretty amazing considering the timeline. I mean, sometimes you get to the end of the book and three months have passed in its pages and the character is still exactly the same. But Adam grew so much. I was proud of him for being honest, for being himself, for being brave. And for realising who was worth his time and love, and who wasn’t.

The other POV in Release was that of the faun, which is where all the paranormal elements come in. I liked these to an extent, but I was never fully invested in them. The world apparently will go to hell if the resurrected dead girl/queen of the fairy realm doesn’t go back to said realm before sunset. I didn’t feel this urgency, though. Maybe because half the book was just so contemporary, and then this magical half was happening just outside of everyone’s perception. I’m not sure. I did like the faun, though. He was a pretty soft character, and I liked how much he cared about his queen, and how hard he tried to… well, kind of save the world, I guess.

I have a feeling that people who love weird books will love this. I wish I had, honestly. I think the execution was great. I love Patrick Ness’s writing style. The fact that he filled the day with so much without making it feel unrealistic was an incredible feat. The relationships were complex and nuanced. There were a lot of things to like about it, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

I think if you’re a big Patrick Ness fan then you need to read this book. If you’re looking for a book that’s quite unlike anything else you’ve ever read then you need to read this book. If you loved Mrs Dalloway or Forever then obviously you need to read this book.

© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: homophobia, graphic depiction of murder (strangulation/drowning), drug addiction, use of ableist language, sexual harassment + blackmail in the workplace, graphic depictions of dismembering, murders, and possible self harm (intention unclear) in this novel

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Posted on: May 19, 2017 • By: Chiara

16 Responses to Review: Release by Patrick Ness

  1. Kayla says:

    Ooooo I’m so jealous! I’m a massive Patrick Ness fan and this book doesn’t even come out here until around September I think! I had the pleasure of meeting him a BookCon a few years back and that just made me even more of a fan, haha!

    I’m super interested to see what I’ll think of the book. I’ll end up reading because I think I’ve officially added him to my auto-buy list after The Rest of Us Just Live Here, but I’ve never quite read anything like this book as you’ve described it so I wonder if it’ll jive with me! I think it really does sound like one of those books where people will really either love it or pass on it!

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, I thought that the different release dates were quite odd! I have never seen one spaced out so much :O I hope you got it come September! I have watched a few interviews with Patrick Ness and he looks DELIGHTFUL. He’s coming down to Sydney next year but… I do not live in Sydney :(

      It does have some similarities with The Rest of Us Just Live Here, so maybe you will love it! I think I just missed the point, but after I read and reviewed it I read someone’s review and it opened my eyes to things I had missed. I hope you loved it if you read it!

  2. I do really want to read this one. I’m sorry it was more of the “didn’t really get it” than LOVE for you though. I think I’d like the contemporary aspects of the book more than the whole paranormal thing. At any rate, I still hope to read this one. It sounds like something I’d probably like overall.

    • Chiara says:

      I hope you liked this one if you did get around to reading it, Lauren! I think I might sit down and re-read it one day because now I know what it’s like I might be more prepared, haha.

  3. I think I’m going to have to try this one, because I LOVE how weird Patrick Ness’s books are (have you read More Than This??? I ADORED it). Although nothing can live up to the brilliance of The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

    • Chiara says:

      If you like how weird his books are then I think you definitely need to read this one, Emily! Also, I have not read More Than This but I really liked The Rest of Us Just Live here :D

  4. I think I’ll try this one myself, though I’m a bit scared, because I really didn’t like The Rest of Us Just Live Here, and the whole Contemporary mixed with a Paranormal storyline reminds me of that one. Sad this one didn’t work out for you all that much. :/ Great review, though!

  5. Megan says:

    I adored Patrick Ness’s Knife of Never Letting go series but then hated More Than This and The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, so I don’t know if I’ll read this one.
    Great review!
    Megan @

    • Chiara says:

      Oh, interesting! It’s so odd how we can love some of an author’s works but not the others. Maybe you can read the first chapter on Amazon and see if it’s a fit?

      Thank you!!

  6. I feel like this book closely resembles the author’s previous book — The Rest of Us Just Live Here. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and couldn’t grasp the *why* behind the need to cross over a contemporary novel with the supernatural. Adam sounds like a great character, but similar to Mikey, there was just something lacking. I couldn’t love him, but I really liked reading from his perspective.

    I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to pick up this new Patrick Ness book as it sounded so similar to TROUJLH. Your review pretty much sealed this for me. Glad you liked it overall Chiara! Thanks for the honest review x

    • Chiara says:

      I ended up really liking The Rest of Us Just Live Here, so I was excited for this one! But I felt like I understood people’s thoughts on TROUJLH because I felt those things about this one *sigh* There was nothing to DISLIKE, but I just didn’t LOVE anything, either. Which is a shame.

      No problem, lovely <3

  7. verushka says:

    I don’t know if this is particularly my cup of tea, but I am curious about how he achieves the pacing in a book over the day — it’s one of my pet peeves.

  8. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one, dear Chiara. I’m sort of in love with everything Patrick Ness, so I’ve been waiting eagerly to get my hands on Release (alas, it doesn’t come out in Singapore until September) — but I completely understand how it might be just a bit too weird/disjointed to understand. Regardless, thank you so much for this lovely review. It’s always wonderful to hear different perspectives on highly publicised books, & your thoughts are so valuable. xox

    • Chiara says:

      I’ve only read two Ness books, and I feel like I need to read some of his other. I OWN all of his others I have no idea why that hasn’t happened yet *sigh* I really hope you love this one, Topaz! Upon reflection I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I should have, and I might be tempted to re-read it at some point, to see if I ~understand~ it more the next time around. Thank you, lovely <3

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