Published by Walker Books Australia on May 4, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Diversity, Own Voices, Contemporary
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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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.
All the horrible things happen to Adam Thorn over the course of one day, and Release is all about how he finds a way to get through these horrible things shaking the very core of his life. It’s also about a faun following his spirit Queen around, who is floating around looking for redemption. I didn’t really “get” that part of the story because it was so random and seemed to have nothing to do with Adam’s story.
I really hated Adam’s family and how they treated him like an aberration, being the gay son of a pastor and an extremely Christian family. Some of his struggles felt really relatable, especially how he blamed them for acting extremely “un-Christian” with the way they treated him. They are pretty much the most horrible people, with his dad saying he struggled to love Adam because of his “affliction” and my heart just broke for him. I was also really angry when Adam went through workplace sexual harrassment, and his dad blamed him for tempting his boss. Pretty much the worst thing that could happen.
His prodigy brother was also really annoying, someone who is handsome and who has always been the perfect son. I felt horrible for him as he tried to fit into the family after announcing an unexpected baby and how his family scorned him for that too.
The friendship with Angela was one of the only things that kept me reading. As a Korean/Dutch, sexually fluid character, she wore her identities like a badge of honour – exactly what Adam needed in life. She’s frank, brutally honest and pretty much Adam’s rock, being friends since they were young. At least he has one thing going for him, right?
It was so much easier to be loved than to have to do any of the desperate work of loving.
Along with his horrible family, Adam is also trying to get over one of his ex-boyfriends, while trying to realise he has a good thing with his current one. Linus is pretty much rainbows and butterflies and all the good things in life and I just wanted him to get the happiness that he deserved.
My main struggle through reading Release, aside from the horrible things happening to Adam, is that I never really connected with his character. Yes, I did feel for him and how everything in his life seemed to be falling apart through this horribly fated day, and how the only person that treated him with any respect were Angela and his boyfriend Linus. But somehow, I felt a disconnect from everything that was happening, and the random faun and the Queen chapters didn’t really help that.
While I love Patrick Ness’s spec fic books including The Knife of Never Letting Go and More Than This, I don’t think his contemporary works including The Rest of Us Just Live Here and now Release are really my thing.
I have always struggled with contemporary books featuring horrible people, and I think that’s why this one didn’t sit well with me. I was also left grasping at straws when it came to the more meta parts of the book which just ended up being frustrating.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to Walker Books Australia for sending me this book for review!
Release is available from Aussie bookstores for RRP$24.99.
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