Reader Review: Release – Patrick Ness

Release:  ★★★

“Never pass up the chance of kissing someone. It’s the worst type of regret.”
When Patrick Ness releases a new novel which suddenly has a huge rave about it, it’s no surprise that it’s going to draw attention. Patrick Ness could probably publish a book with a single page repeated over and over a few hundred times, and it would still draw attention without skipping a beat. So I had been meaning to pick up ‘Release’ for quite some time now and I recently just got around to doing so. 

If I wasn’t buying the book for the story, I would be buying it for the cover alone.  No matter how you feel about the content written on those pages – you have to admit that it’s a damn nice cover design, so props to the illustrator for that.

When it comes to the book and the story itself, it did rather let me down. It wasn’t bad, per say, though nothing special about the story jumped out at me. The characters are good – they’re inclusive and they confront tough real-life situations that I’m sure quite a few readers are going to be able to relate to in one sense or another, but there’s no mind-blowing factor about this book that shook the ground for me. 
The story follows one day in the life of 17-year-old Adam Thorn as he faces the issue of friends moving away, sexual harassment from his boss, relationship complications, and pressure from his religious family to fit into a mould that he can’t. It’s truly a hectic day for Adam and we get to experience it all with him, which is paralleled by a rather odd-twisting story regarding a recently murdered high-school student who comes back to avenge herself. 

I made notes when I was reading through this book to keep my thoughts written down and to document them more clearly, and one of the first things that I mention is how I enjoyed the dialogue of the story. I definitely still support this – I think that the dialogue is written in a nice, easy style that’s simple for the reader to follow and interpret, whilst also getting to know the characters and their differences throughout their own mannerisms. It makes the reader feel involved, and that’s something that Patrick Ness has a knack to do effectively, so, honestly, I didn’t expect anything less. Along with this, the descriptions of the book are very good and immersive, which adds to the reader’s visualisation of the story. The layout of the book is interesting and confusing but in a weirdly good way. The reader wants to keep reading to find out what the hell is actually going on, especially with the continuously flipping narratives between a teenage boy and a ghost/faun/something. 

One of the things that did stand out to me about the book is that the distress and the emotions were written and portrayed in a very real sense. This allows the reader to actually experience the feelings of the characters, which is vitally important due to the harsh types of topics that the book approaches rather frankly. The feelings of young adult Adam are very relatable, and I’m sure a hell of a lot of teenagers – if not every teenager – can agree with some of the conflicting thoughts he has about his own life and growing up. It’s a very difficult time – I’m still struggling with it – and this novel shows that Adam is just as human as the rest of us. 

The writing style is typical of Patrick Ness is the sense that, once again, it’s easy to read and it flows well. I actually had to pace myself when I was reading the book because I didn’t want to finish it too quickly, though I still polished it off in a day. The way that some of the scenes and situations within the book are written definitely feel personal and intimate, which makes the reader feel connected to the story rather than just feeling invasive. If you’re familiar with Ness’ previous works, which I’m sure most people are, then the style of writing in this particular book isn’t going to surprise you. 

Moving onto the actual ‘ghost story’ narrative, that’s the part that I couldn’t really get into. Saying that, once again, it’s not unexpected of a Patrick Ness story to take weird twists and make the reader rethink what they’re actually reading altogether, but the narrative of the murdered girl coming back to ‘avenge her death’ didn’t really grab me. It just made me confused as it felt as if that subplot kept interrupting the main plot of following a day in the life of Adam Thorn, so it got to the point where I was rather ignoring the ‘ghost story’ in regard to the entire narrative.

I will admit, towards the end of the story, you can see the correlation between the ghost narrative sub-plot and the main premise because the reader is then able to see that there are links between the different types of ‘releases’ that the characters are going through and have to come to terms with. Though, that being said, it still didn’t work for me all that well. It didn’t grab my attention like I think I wanted it to or was meant to, which slightly left me deflated once I had finished the book because I felt like there was more to be experienced that I had missed out on. 

To put it simply; Patrick Ness is a great writer who wonderfully creates well-developed characters and uses his work to approach tough topics and harsh realities of everyday life. This book, in particular, is going to be very relatable for a lot of young people, it’s easy to read and it’s quick to get through because it’s involved and immersive for the audience in general. You’re able to experience what the characters are feeling and experience the day of Adam with him. However, there are elements of the story that don’t make all that much sense and don’t feel important enough to be notable, which takes away from the excitement. It’s a good read, I would recommend it more than I wouldn’t, but it’s nothing that’s shaken the world off its axis. 

Thanks for reading this short review and I’ll write you later. 

If you’re generally a fan of Patrick Ness and his iconic writing style, then I would recommend that you check out ‘Release’ as it truly is another piece of good work coming from the author.

If you’re a fan of being reminded that sometimes life is hard, that’s okay, and things work out, even if you’re young and feel like the world’s against you, then pick up a copy of this book and see what you make of it yourself. You never know, you could love it. 

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