Review: Release

No but you just don't understand the feelings I have about this book. I loved it. I loved it so hard that I wanted more than 5 stars. Give me all the stars so I can give them to Patrick Ness because this book is beautiful. So so beautiful, and we all know how easily I can be seduced by the pretty words. It's a short book (and I know I've said this already, stick with me kids this review will improve) but it's just beautiful. Like really really stunningly written. I wanted to wrap myself up in these words and never let them go and I AM SPIRALLING A LITTLE BIT I SHALL REIN MYSELF IN.

Although, actually I kind of love it when I read a book that I love so much I find myself flailing over it. This book ticks so many of my boxes, I kind of wanted to go right back to the beginning as soon as I'd finished and start all over again.


What's the deal here I hear you ask, why are you doing that crazy excited thing.

Grab yourself some Mini Eggs (It's January, tis totally the season) and I'll tell you.

 It's inspired, so I heard, by Judy Blume's Forever and Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. So there's that.

Mostly though, this book is just so easy to read, powerful - so so powerful - and sensitive and so so beautiful. I couldn't put it down (that's happening a lot at the moment and I am loving it).

It's about a boy, called Adam Thorn and it takes place over just one day in his life.

One very very bad day.

Adam is adorable. Read this book and tell me differently, I dare you. He's this one teenage boy, stuck in this life - with these parents and this job and all this stuff going on and you so desperately want to make everything work out for him.

He's a gay teenager in small town America. His Dad is a super conservative preacher and his family, being as they are all 'pray the gay away' are not so understanding or accepting of Adam, at all, so he's living with his sexuality as this massive secret, and on top of that he has an older brother who can do no wrong and I cannot even tell you how sad and how ragey that whole shitstorm of a family set up made me. There's this one major scene between Adam and his Dad and it just hurt me to read it.

“Do you love me?” Adam asked. 
“More than my own life,” his dad said, immediately.
“But you don't want to have to do anything with that love. You don't want it to have to work.” 
“You have no idea how much I work to love you.” 
And there it was, the blow after all.

Hold on a moment I'm chopping onions.

The day the book is set is the day leading up to Adam's ex-boyfriend's leaving party, so there's that going on because this guy broke his heart and so he still has all these unresolved  feelings which is confusing because he has a new (and rather excellent, actually) boyfriend now who he really want to really love with all he has and he can't quite figure out how. Ness just nails that - the hot mess that is emotion, at any age not just as a teenager and there are lines in there that got right under my skin.

“Raising his eyes to look directly into Linus's face was maybe the scariest thing he'd had to do all day long, but it was only the free-falling terror that always accompanied hope.”

And then he's being sexually harassed by his boss which is so important because young men being sexually harassed by older men in positions of power is so rarely addressed, not to mention how important it is to address any kind of abuse of power generally. It's so easy for lines to get blurred, for the person who shouldn't cross them to cross them and for the other person to not know, really, what exactly they're supposed to do about that - how to react or how to feel and it really matters I think, to acknowledge that this happens, that it's not your fault and to see you have options if and when it does. It's so cleverly handled here - Adam's reactions are so realistic as are those of his best friend and his dad (although massively different) and not for the only time in this book I wanted to hug Patrick Ness for going there.

“And for a second, a second he would relive for years to come, Adam found himself considering it. Would it really be so bad? Wade didn't look like someone who would ever take his time about anything, and if it was over quick, who would really be harmed...?He would. The thought of Wade's hands on his bare skin alone gave him goosebumps, already felt like a violation, but if...If he deserved this. (Did he?) If Wade has spotted in him - as he obviously had - that corruption at his heart, that little piece of unfixable brokenness - It's not real love, Marty said.We're just messing around, Enzo said.Maybe it was all true.Maybe this is what happened to people like him.(People like what?)”

I was also such a fan of the way Ness looked at Adam's two romantic relationships. Actually, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this book, with the sexual harassment aspect and also with Adam's relationships with his ex, Enzo and his current boyfriend Linus, makes for some of the best discussion of sex in any YA book I've read ever. It's really clever and thoughtful and important look at sex and choices and consent and respect - both of ourselves and others and this book is only set over one day. I also imagine it's going to matter to gay teens today in the way Forever mattered to girls like me way back when. We need books like this one and the fact that it's a thing that exists delights me.

On top of all that - the parents and the boss and the ex boyfriend leaving, Adam's best friend is leaving too, which is terrible and awful because she's the one constant solid reliable thing in his life, the one thing he doesn't need to question and the person he turns to to make everything else make sense.

“I don't know why you're lying to me.” She took his hand and held it, just like that day they'd turned over in the car. “But maybe that's what you have to do to stay alive right now, so that's okay. If you ever fall, I'm here to catch you. Or not, actually, you're a giant, but I'm here to at least watch you fall and then get bandages.”

Like I said: bad day and even though it is a bad day and even though some of the stuff that's going on here is unbearably sad, please don't let that stop you reading this book because it's to marvellously created that if you don't you really will be missing out and you won't feel sad by the end I promise, you'll feel so hopeful and it's worth the angst, it really is. Ness is a master at his craft. I'm making it sound like a sad book, which it is, but it also really isn't because there is hope and there are positives and there's a real sense that the message to take away from this book is that it gets better. And really. isn't that a thing we all need to hear some days?


Yup. You heard. Alongside this teenage boy living his worst life there's this thread of another story woven through, of the ghost of a girl who was murdered in the town and who is being taken over by the spirit pf a queen and is looking for closure pursued by a faun.

I love that.

I love how it fits in so seamlessly, even though really it should be at odds with the rest of the story and even though the cut from one to another is often sudden and sometimes jarring it still kind of works. It takes a really long time - like, to the end - for you to work out where it's all going and how this story actually ties into Adam's story and honestly for a while I didn't get it. I liked it, but I didn't get it. I felt like Adam's story is beautiful and complex enough to have not needed this and yet I am still so glad it was there; it was different and somehow ethereal which was so clever juxtaposed alongside this other starkly real day from hell and it was just the kind of magical writing that I love.

“But then she thinks, feels, reaches out, and knowing exactly what blame is - a human construct, one of its blackest and more selfish and self-blinding - she can find further strands of it, emanating in all directions, for blame is something that is shared but denied in equal measure.” 
I just really really loved the whole thing. You're going to have to work hard, 2019, to top this.