My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s no secret to regular readers of my reviews that I LOVE Patrick Ness’ writing. The prose in Release is just sublime. Ness just gets better and better and this latest novel, a magical, heartfelt tale with a hard edge of realism, is as good as it gets.
Central character, Adam Thorn, is having a HUGE day. His former flame, Enzo, is leaving town; his best friend, Angela, makes a big announcement; Adam’s brother, Marty, makes an even bigger announcement; Adam’s boss, the greasily repugnant Wade, is sexually harrssing him; and Adam is trying to work out if he is in love with current flame, Linus. All the action in this story takes place over the course of a single day and it’s NEVER boring.
And if all that wasn’t enough, there is a second parallel storyline concerning the ghost of a murdered local girl rampaging through the forest and town looking for answers, for peace. Her journey and Adam’s are similar – they are both trying to find where they fit in and trying to move on from things that are holding them back.
I really like Adam as a protagonist. He is funny, sensitive, and well-liked by his peers. He also has an amazing best friend in Angela. She is probably my favourite character in this story. She loves Adam fiercely, and is always in his corner, and he in hers, no matter what. She has his back and her family is the family Adam wishes he has. Big Brian Thorn – head preacher at The House Upon the Rock evangelical church – is a proud and prejudiced man. Adam has hidden his true self from his parents for a long time and the revelation of who he really is, is a pivotal moment in the novel. When Big Brian finds out Adam is gay (and hopes he can pray the gay away) he tells Adam
“You have no idea how much I work to love you.”
Ouch. Adam tells his father how he feels about Angela’s family:
“…they’re my family. They love me. They are who I go to when things are hard. That hasn’t been you for years, Dad, and do you really never wonder whose fault that is?”
This is a novel about a small town, but it’s full of BIG emotions, BIG decisions. It’s a triumph. Read it. Just. Read. It.
Ages 13 and up.