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Release by Patrick Ness

BOTTOM LINE: Stunning coming-of-age story

Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 19 September 2017
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release. “

My Thoughts: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Patrick Ness is an amazing writer. He captures the human experience, especially that of younger adults, so well, bringing to the surface memories and emotions long held dormant. Release is his latest novel in a long line of stunning stories that quite literally take your breath away with their poignancy. With a few chuckles thrown in to ease the pain, Adam Thorn’s day of discovery is one that will haunt you for a long time to come.

One of the best parts of Mr’s Ness’ novels is how accessible he makes his characters. There is very little he hides from readers, allowing you to recognize at least a part of yourself in them. This relatability naturally builds empathy and bridges the gap from fictional character to real-world reader. Through Adam, Mr. Ness reminds readers what it is to be young and facing the types of life-altering changes that impact everyone of a certain age.

Adam is an every-man character, and yet he is so much more. He is a reminder of the fact that everyone is deserving of love. He is also a reminder that emotions are much more complicated than people remember. As we follow his confusion over Enzo’s leaving and watch him struggle to reconcile his feelings for his father and brother, we are reminded of our own complicated relationships and that pang of first love that never quite leaves us. Mr. Ness does a beautiful job of capturing Adam’s vulnerability and making it our own.

The side story is equally impressive. With its supernatural bent, it would be so easy for it to decline into the outrageous and harm the entire novel. However, Mr. Ness keeps it pertinent to Adam’s story by expanding on the theme of the ties that bind us, showing us the fragility of the relationships and the inner strength needed to survive them. It provides the perfect balance to Adam’s more overemotional sections while furthering the overall theme of the novel.

Release is a very simple story without much in the way of action or adventure. However, what it lacks in adrenaline rushes it more than compensates through a story that emotionally punches you in the gut and keeps on punching. Adam and his struggles make you thankful you are past that age of emotional turmoil and near-constant change while simultaneously shining a light on those experiences which have made you who you are. If you have never had the pleasure of reading one of Mr. Ness’ novels, Release is a perfect place to start, and if you are already a fan, it is a must-read that will further cement his genius status.

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