Book Review | Release

Title // Release
Author // Patrick Ness
Publication Date // May 2017
Publisher // Walker Books
Genre // Young Adult
Rating // ⭐︎


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.


Release, by Patrick Ness, is an emotionally charged young adult book that takes place over 24 hours – or, as noted by the narrator, The Most Really Worst Day In The Possible Of Existence.

Adam is having a bad day – his ex-boyfriend is having a going-away party, he’s involved in a horrific incident at work, his relationships with his friends are threatened, and his relationship with his family is fractured. Everything that happens on this day – from the confrontations to the quiet moments – will either lead up to Adam finding his release, or leave him feeling caged.

I really enjoyed Release. Adam was a very likeable character who’s emotional turmoil will resonate with readers because there’s a little bit of Adam in everyone. He’s trying to make sense of the world, of his relationships, his family and himself, and everything comes to a head in the span of 24 hours leaving him little room to process, let alone react accordingly. There are plenty of moments in Release that made me uncomfortable – particularly in regards to Adam’s very religious family and their thoughts and views on his sexuality, and on Adam as a result – but it was the kind of uncomfortable that belongs in books like this, that help challenge the preconceived notions and fears of others and I believe Patrick Ness handled it beautifully.

I loved the positive relationships, too – Angela, Adam’s Korean best friend was a hoot (I wish I had an Angela in my life) and got some amazing lines in the book. Linus was also a very positive, patient influence in Adam’s life and the development of his relationship with Adam was wonderful to read, too.

The strangest part of the book was the parallel story of the ghost from the lake, and while not my favourite part of the book, definitely wound its way through the narrative until it finally comes full-circle at the end and some things began to fall into place for me. Ultimately, thought, I could have taken or left that storyline and just followed Adam’s story over this very hectic day.

Overall, I gave Release 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Dymocks for sending a proof copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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