ARC Review // Release by Patrick Ness

release

FTC DISCLOSURE

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ . 5  s t a r s

Adam Thorn hasn’t been having the best day of his life. His ex-boyfriend, who he might still be in love with, is going away tonight and Adam’s going to the going-away party, but the situation is bringing up old memories and pent-up emotions and the heartbreak Enzo left behind when he walked out of Adam’s life. Either way, Adam has a new boyfriend now, who’s nice and cares deeply about him, but does Adam love him like he loved Enzo? But there’s more – his brother drops a revelation that shocks Adam, and he has to come to make some difficult decisions regarding his ultra-religious parents and his sexuality; the fact that he’s fired from work the same day doesn’t help the day get any better. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the ghost of a murdered girl has risen from the lake…

Patrick Ness writes in his author’s note, “How do we ever, ever survive our teenage years? Every young person you meet is a walking, talking miracle.” Going into the book having read this line was an experience in and of itself, because it nudged me towards reading the book a certain way – a way that made me appreciate its weirdness, its sometimes-confusing components. Release cemented Patrick Ness’s signature move in my mind – he combines the ordinary and the extraordinary, and he blurs the lines between the two to the point where you ask yourself, “What?” at least a few times every few pages. The message takes some time to sink in, but when it does, it clicks into place: your life, your teenage years and the heartaches, the pain and the joys, in all their ordinariness, are no less extraordinary than fantasies. The parallels are muddled and confusing, so much so that sometimes I wondered what was the point of including the fantastical elements to the book, but look closely. It’s there – just out of reach, and it gives the novel a completely new layer. I was more interested in Adam’s “ordinary” story than the ghost of a murdered meth addict and dead queens and fauns- and ultimately, that’s the point. There need not be something magical for your story to be extraordinary. Ness’s devotion to the wonderful strength of ordinary teenage life speaks volumes throughout the entire body of his work, and it shines in Release too.

Perhaps one of the reasons I adore Ness’s work so much is because he doesn’t treat his young characters like an age, like many older writers tend to do when they’re writing YA. There is no condescension in Ness’s themes; his characters’ romances are as intense as they are for many of us when it comes to first love. Their pains aren’t dramatized and glamorized, but are given an incredible amount of empathy from the person writing them. Ness writes about young people for young people, and he never, ever sugarcoats it. I don’t say this lightly when I say that I wish I had something like Patrick Ness’s books when I was a teenager, when my feelings – whether they be positive or negative – were being invalidated because “I’m still just a kid.” I wish I had something like his novels to tell me that sure, I am a kid, but that doesn’t mean my feelings are less valid, and being a kid sure as hell isn’t something I should be ashamed of.

This book is #OwnVoices for gay representation – there are two or three main characters in this book, and none of them are straight, though Adam’s best friend is questioning whether she is bisexual. We have Adam, who is a young gay boy from an ultra-religious family, whose father is a preacher, who has been left and beaten down from all sides of his life. Everybody he’s ever been close to has moved away, and the people who were meant to be his family make him feel unwanted. He feels unloved, like he doesn’t deserve anything good, simply because he’s never gotten it. His development, over the course of the day, is glaringly apparent and you can’t help but love everything about him by the first few chapters. Ness does a beautiful job of showing Adam’s vulnerabilities; he’s a beefy boy who isn’t afraid to break down when he needs to, who isn’t afraid to tell the people he loves that he loves them, and that he will love them until the end of the world. We need vulnerable boys in YA literature; we need their vulnerabilities to be normalized and not made a big deal of, and this book is a step in the right direction. I can’t speak for the representation in the book, because I am straight, but this is an #OwnVoices review from someone who adored the book as much as I did.

As if my ravings weren’t already enough, I have more! Release depicts sex among young people without flinching; there are no fade-out scenes, and scenes that feel so overdramatic and flowery that you roll your eyes, and flip the page. The young people who have sex in this novel talk while they’re doing it, and they laugh, and it’s sometimes awkward. There’s talk about virginities, but losing it isn’t made a big deal of like it so often is – it can be painful, and it can be quick, and it mostly never is perfect… but that’s okay. The explicit talk and the sex scenes are a warning to sex-averse readers, so be careful about that, and if you don’t want to read about sex, don’t pick this book up. It’s unflinchingly honest, and it never shies away from the subject. I also really appreciated how it dealt with sexual harassment, unwanted advances and rape culture rather honestly and brutally.

In the end, this is an important book. It’s one of the most important books I’ve read, in more ways than one. And if I had any doubt in my mind that Patrick Ness is a writer for the ages, this book completely erased that inkling of doubt, and he has cemented his place as one of the most eloquent, wonderful writers out there – not only for young people, but rather especially for young people. Read the book. It’s out in the UK already, so order it if you can’t wait. And if you can wait, read it when it releases on September 19th. Just read it and devour it and love it as much as I did.

release

TRIGGER WARNING

Sexual harassment, rape culture, homophobia, murder

BUY IT

Goodreads // Amazon (to pre-order in the US)  // The Book Depository (it’s out in the UK)

 

Comments

  1. I just found out your blog and I’m already loving it! How you review, the work you do to spread OwnVoices, LGBTQ+ and many other books that should be known more widely makes me love what you do.
    I started blogging in April, so I’m pretty knew, and it thanks to bloggers like you that I had decided to create my own blog.
    This review was so wonderful that made me wish to write in your same way. How do you do? I’m really bad at writing reviews and I need a looot of improvement, as I’m a Chinese girl in Italy and English is not certainly my first language. XD
    P.S. I loved your “Ultimate Guide to Diverse YA Books Releasing in 2017”, now I’m looking forward to many books you listed! 😉

    • Oh, gosh, thank you so much for all your kind words – it truly means the world to me that you like my content, like what I do, and I could serve as any sort of inspiration for your own blog. Thank you so much, again, for simply letting me know that.

      If it helps, it took me years to get my review template right. I tried SO many things – discussion style, dividing my reviews up by categories (so like writing, characters, plot, etcetera) and finally settled upon this. I’d say don’t be afraid to change it up. If you get bored, try something new. You’ll get to a point where you’re happy with how you review. It takes time, practice and patience, but you can do it! Also, your English is fine, pickle. 💖

  2. I have actually never read anything by Patrick Ness yet and I clearly need to remedy that soon. This book sounds brilliant, but I think I’m going to start with A Monster Calls since I already own it and just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Wonderful review!

    • You NEED to pick up A Monster Calls! His works are brilliant, but that one is many people’s favorite, though mine is probably his Chaos Walking trilogy. Thank you so much, Ruzaika. <3

  3. What a beautiful review <3 I believe I've read every Ness book apart from this one so far, and I utterly agree that 'Ness writes about young people for young people'. His stories are dark and clever and twisted and so very real each and every time. I am hesitant to pick this book up because it is compared to Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway which I really didn't enjoy, and it sounds like it might be similar to The Rest of Us Just Live here which was my least favourite of his books (which was tragic because I thought I'd adore it). But I've loved every other thing he's written, and you've convinced me that I definitely need to pick this up.

    • Definitely – dark and clever is a great way to describe Ness’s stories. Mrs. Dalloway is a book that greatly inspired Ness to write this book, as he mentions in his acknowledgments and author’s note – but since I haven’t read that book, I can’t really say how much justice the comparisons do to it. It IS similar to TRoUJLH but I didn’t love that book much – this one was definitely better. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it, though. <3

  4. I am a huge fan of Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls is so heartbreaking and beautiful) so I am so glad to hear this is just as good as all of his other books. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • A Monster Calls really is one of his best works – truly heart-wrenching throughout. Thank you so much, Zoe. <3

  5. First and foremost, your blog is GORGEOUS. Seriously, so stunning.

    Secondly, excellent review! I haven’t read any Patrick Ness yet but I seriously need to. Actually, I’ve read A Monster Calls and it broke me. I haven’t read any of his YA stuff yet though.

    • You NEEEEEEED to read the Chaos Walking trilogy, Lauren! It’s SO god, and I haven’t stopped raving about it ever since I read it a couple of years back. <3

  6. Ugh I want to read this so bad now! I’ll definitely have to put it in my TBR. This review was so nice and talked up Ness’ writing so much. I haven’t read any of his writing, but I know a lot of people have. I might just want to have this be the first book!

    • I’m such a Ness fangirl, Alexa, haha. I don’t recommend it as his first book honestly – that will always be A Monster Cals or his Chaos Walking trilogy, even though I really loved this. It’s just not a good… stepping stone into his work, can I say? 😛

  7. I haven’t read Patrick Ness yet but this review makes me want to try his books right away. I like that he doesn’t talk down to YA readers or condescend- I think YA books that honestly FEEL like real life are kinda uncommon. I like your line about how the teen years are no less extraordinary than fantasies- so true!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this- great review!!

    • Definitely – YA writers need to work on not sensationalizing teenagers’ lives. It’s funny because they were all teenagers once, but I think many of us romanticize those years, which bleeds into the writing too. Ness is one of the few writers who, to me, doesn’t do that. Thank you so much, Greg!

  8. This sounds absolutely lovely and raw and that is what I loooove.
    I hate when virginity is made up to be this huge deal and omg you’re going to be different and you’ll walk differently and you’ll nEVER BE THE SAME HOLY CRAP. Like, no. It’s just a thing. A thing that humans experience. woop-dee-fracken-doo. I have had my eye on this forever and I cannot wait for it to finally release (haha puns ;)).

    • Absolutely! Virginity was and will remain a social construct, and I despise that it’s made such a big deal when it’s really just another first in a life full of firsts. It’s nothing special, though I understand why it may be to some people who hold certain beliefs. Hope you love it as much as I did, Kris. <3

  9. Is is possible for a review to make me like a book more than I did when I read it? Don’t get me wrong, I did like Release, but your beautiful review made me appreciate it more, which I think is kind of amazing. I almost wish I had been able to read your review BEFORE I read the book because I feel like its impact would have been felt even more.

    I also adored the way that teen sex was portrayed in this book, and I’m glad that the editors and publishers didn’t force it out. It was refreshing to see that element of teen life explored in a way that wasn’t unrealistic or life-changing or something that needs to happen only after two previous books where the lives of both people have been in danger.

    I watched an interview with Ness about this book, and I think I fell in love with him a bit *laughs* Because like you said, he’s just so respectful of teens and they lives and their voices, and I ADORE that. There’s nothing worse than a YA writer who doesn’t respect the people they’re writing for and about.

    Honestly, this is one of the best reviews I’ve ever read (which is saying a lot, since I’ve been blogging for for years now!), and I hope you are proud of it <3

    • Oh my gosh – first of all, sorry for the horribly late reply. I absolutely suck at keeping up with comments, though I’ve been working on it steadily. T_T

      Secondly, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I spent a lot time simmering over the book and thinking about exactly what made it tick in my mind, so I’m so, so happy that the review conveyed that like I had hoped it would. Patrick Ness really is a little bit magical, haha. I remember I went to a signing of his and was absolutely transfixed by his words and the messages he conveyed through the faintest things. Again, thank you so so much for such a kind comment. It truly means the world to me. <3

  10. I’ve only ever read A Monster Calls by Ness, but I loved it and totally agree that he treats his younger readers very well, so I’m glad he continues that! Great review! I’m glad you loved the book.
    ps. Your blog is beeeautiful!!

  11. Great review for this book Aimal. I read this when it was released in the UK and I really enjoyed it as well, pretty much for all the reasons you wrote about in your review. 🙂 I’ll admit I wasn’t as much of a fan of Release as I was some of Ness’s earlier books but I still thought in terms of YA books and in terms of #OwnVoices it was a brilliant read. I loved Adam’s character development throughout and how he learns as he goes through everything he does in the space of one day. Ness is an incredible author when it comes to writing characters, and honestly I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next! 😀

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Beth! I think the fantastical elements will definitely put off a lot of readers, just because Adam’s story was so interesting in and of itself that they feel unnecessary, though in my weird mind, I still kind of appreciate what was done, ha. Thank you so much for stopping by. <3

      • I get what you mean, there were times when I wanted to get back to Adam’s story quicker and the fantasy elements felt unnecessary, but overall the two stories worked well together.
        That’s all right. 🙂

  12. Aah! I read this book when it was released here and I am so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. I was also actually more interested in Adam’s story than the magical-y one but I think both had their worth. And I agree, I think Patrick Ness does a great job of honestly portraying teenagers without feeling patronising! I JUST LOVED RELEASE A LOT. *nods*

    • Exactly right – I was far more invested in Adam’s story than the ghost’s, but I still really appreciated what Ness was doing with them both. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the book too!

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