Review: Release – Patrick Ness

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Synopsis: 

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.


Whilst I haven’t read all of Patrick Ness’ rep, I have read A Monster Calls, which I found absolutely hauntingly beautiful (you can read my full review here) and I plan on making my way through all of his books over the next year.

I’m in two minds about this book. One half I loved, the other… I just didn’t really understand it’s relevance.

Release is essentially told from two perspectives. The first, is from a gay teenage boy struggling to overcome a past relationship, and the continuous disapporoval of his highly religious family and their homophobic views. This part, I loved. I found it moving, interesting, and empowering. I really liked Adam as a character, and it was just lovely to read his journey throughout the day, and see him develop and find himself.

The second perspective, I wasn’t a fan of. I can’t say too much without spoiling it for those who haven’t read it, and I don’t want to influence anyone’s opinions, but I found it very confusing. It had a kind of magical realism element to it, which I found interesting and added an extra twist to the writing, but didn’t quite feel like the two parts joined together. It made the narrative feel a bit too disjointed and surreal for my liking, and actually took away some of my enjoyment whilst reading it. I found myself racing through those parts just so I could get back to reading about Adam.

I still found myself hoping that somehow at the end, the two would marry together beautifully, but it just didn’t happen. The two characters meet briefly at the very end, but the event didn’t seem important or pivotal enough to recover that element of the book, and the book was just too short for it to hold great significance.

By the time I actually got into the flow of it, it was over. Maybe a re-read would alter my opinion slightly, but it’s not a top priority for me right now.

It’s a shame, because Adam’s story was a solid 5 stars from me, but the second perspective just let it down in my opinion.

I’d still recommend it because half of it really was wonderful, it’s got a great LGBT rep in its characters, and Ness’ writing is generally just a joy to read.


Please, any of you who have read it, share your opinions below. I’d love to hear what everyone else has to say about the second perspective. ❤️


View Release on Goodreads

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3 thoughts on “Review: Release – Patrick Ness

  1. elliempatten says:

    My feelings are really similar! I absolutely loved Adam’s story, but I wasn’t such a fan of the supernatural/fantasy side. I think by the end I could see that they both had the common theme of letting go, but I think I would have liked it better if there had been more overlap between them earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

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