Author: Patrick Ness
Publication Date: May 2017
Two Sentence Synopsis: Today, Adam Thorn’s life will change. As he goes through his day, Adam is reminded of things from his past.
Review: For a book where the entire narrative lasts less than 24 hours, Release doesn’t feel rushed at all. It’s a difficult thing to do in a novel where there’s such a short timeline for the plot, but Patrick Ness manages it. Adam’s story is broken up by a supernatural subplot about the ghost of a murdered girl who seeks her killer.
Adam is a gay teenager in a small town and his father is an evangelical minister at one of the local churches. His boss constantly sexually harasses him and he still has feelings for his ex, for whom Adam plans to attend a going-away party for later in the evening.
There are definitely parts where this book gets difficult to read. Most notably the sections when Adam interacts with his boss and the homophobic statements from Adam’s father. I will also forewarn that there are some pretty explicit sex scenes between Adam and his boyfriend, as well as in the reflections Adam has of his ex. If explicit sex scenes — or, more specifically, explicit sex scenes between two young men — bother you, you probably won’t be interested in reading this book.
A character I particularly enjoyed was Angela, Adam’s best friend. Born in Korea and adopted by a Dutch woman and her American husband, Angela doesn’t put labels on herself, although she freely explores her sexuality. The friendship she and Adam have is amazing. They’re so close and so supportive of one another. Adam’s other friends seem pretty cool, too, plus the cast is very diverse with lots of strong female characters.
The one part that took away a little bit, even though I didn’t hate it, was the supernatural subplot. A young woman was murdered by her boyfriend while they were both high on meth. Her body was dumped in a lake and her ghost became entwined with a spirit Queen. A faun tries follows the ghost girl to try and untangle her from his queen. If the ghost girl and the Queen don’t separate before sunset, the whole world might end.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a wonderful, coming-of-age story with a diverse cast.