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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,498 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
May 9, 2017
Who cared if he’d grow out of it? That didn’t make it any less true in those painful and euphoric days when it was happening. The truth was always now, even if you were young. Especially if you were young.

I am so torn. I'm not even sure how I feel about Release overall. It's like there are two books in here - one I absolutely loved, and the other I just didn't enjoy at all.

Ness is one of those authors who never writes the same book, or same kind of book, twice. Liking one is no guarantee you will like another. I absolutely adored his Chaos Walking trilogy - The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, I thought A Monster Calls was a beautiful middle grade book, and I loved what Ness did in More Than This. However, The Crane Wife didn't work for me, and I thought The Rest of Us Just Live Here was clever, but boring.

Release is a strange story, heavily influenced by Mrs. Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever. In fact, it's a little meta for my tastes (kind of like The Rest of Us Just Live Here was) and even includes direct references to Forever in the story, whilst the first and last lines are plays on the first and last lines of Mrs. Dalloway.

When I said it felt like there were two books in one, that's because the story alternates between a day in the life of Adam Thorn, and a weird, kinda magical realism ghost story about a faun and a queen, which clearly had something to do with the recent death of a meth addict, but I'm still not 100% sure I get what the hell was going on.
The faun wishes to tell her, tell her that she is caught, his Queen, snagged and bound by a frightened soul. He needs to tell her that she is in danger of becoming lost forever, but he cannot. He can only look at the sun, less than an hour from its midday peak. The faun is worried. The faun is very worried.

Adam Thorn's story, on the other hand, is very powerful. He is the gay son of a preacher, struggling against his family's beliefs, trying to ward off the sexual advances of his boss, and working through some serious heartbreak... all in the space of one day. The book manages to cover sex, love, friendship, family and loss in so few pages, and in such a moving way.

Adam's chapters are hard-hitting, beautiful and sad. His ultimate realization towards the end of the book carries with it that certain bittersweetness that only comes with the letting go of someone you loved deeply.

But I just didn't enjoy the experimental style of the other chapters. I'm sure it was supposed to be deep and meaningful, but the choice to add it felt cold and intellectual in a book that was otherwise so emotionally tense. I wanted more Adam, less weird.

I would hesitate before recommending this book. Though Adam's story was compelling and his character so well-drawn, a lot of this short book is taken up with metaphoric wanderings into the weird and - sometimes it seemed - nonsensical. But maybe smarter people than me will appreciate it. Otherwise, I recommend reading Silvera's History Is All You Left Me instead.

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Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
August 13, 2018
4 stars! I really enjoyed this read. It takes some important topics that are rarely discussed in YA, and in society in general. There were a few elements I didn't enjoy as much, but overall, Release is an important novel a wide variety of people should read.

CW: homomisia (homophobia), sexual harassment, intimate partner violence

Release is a modern day contemporary yet there appears to be a supernatural/paranormal aspect as certain chapters follow the ghost of a recently deceased girl after rising out of the lake. I have to say, this was my least favorite part of the novel. The real-world storyline was fabulous, but the chapters from the ghost felt out of place. I wasn't a fan of the prose and didn't really understand why it was included. Clearly, it's meant to serve as some analogy or connection to Adam's story, but I can admit I may have just not read it critically enough. I've found similar issues for me personally in some of his other works, where I just do not "get" the slight paranormal elements included. Patrick Ness is such a strong contemporary writer but I can't ever seem to grasp the supernatural portions of his books. The "ghost/queen/faun" narrative was my biggest dislike about the book, otherwise, I really enjoyed the rest of it.

I have to say, I am SO DAMN PLEASED with the portrayal of sexual harassment in this book. For one, sexual harassment against young boys is NEVER TALKED ABOUT and so often brushed off and hidden. I think this book could give a lot of comfort to boys who have been in similar situations as this topic is handled with care. But also, Release tackles Quid Pro Quo harassment (in the workplace; authority figure promises benefits and/or threatens consequences regarding sexual favors from an employee). I don't think I've ever read a young adult novel that discusses this form of harassment, which makes this book even more of a gem to me. This topic related to this population is so under-discussed and I really commend Ness for taking a stand and giving victims hope to fight through.

Another wonderful piece of this book is Adam's struggle with his faith. I tend to have a soft spot for YA novels about teens distancing themselves from Christianity as it is something I have gone through myself. (I will say for my Christian followers, I feel Adam's questioning of his faith is done with respect to Christianity/Evangelism and his issues are not at all an attack on his belief system.) I know for a fact there are so many young LGBTQ+ teens out there who have grown up in religious households that create a hostile environment for them to be their true selves, and again, I believe Release can be a great comfort for individuals in that situation. I obviously can't speak for the representation but as Ness is a gay man (yay own voices!) I trust he's handled this topic with grace. Watching Adam's fears transform into defiance and confidence was truly elevating and I value my time watching him grow as a character.

Overall, this was a super enjoyable read. It takes place over the course of one day and it is immensely easy to fly through. I always enjoy Ness's books and am especially glad this particular story exists for all the good I know it can do for readers. Would highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Walker Books at Book Expo 2017. I had no obligation to review this book and all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
January 12, 2022
“They're your parents. They're meant to love you because. Never in spite.”

Release was one of my most anticipated reads this year and one that I had preordered as soon as I had heard of it. Patrick Ness is one of the most taltented authors that I know. A Monster Calls was hauntingly beautiful and emotional while More Than This was eerie and scary as hell, but nevertheless beautiful. The Knife of Never Letting Go was brutal and twisted, too much so in my opinion, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here was just lacking in something.
I'm afraid I have to say the same thing about Release. I expected a great contemporay novel. In a way it was: a wide range of likeable characters with depth, teen angst, coming of age characteristics, family issues, love and sex. What threw me off was the weird paranormal part of this book, a part that seemed almost trivial. It was very similar to The Rest of Us Just Live Here. We basically have to parallel plots that hardly ever overlap. The coexist but don't touch. It's two different stories in one book, and I'd rather have two standalone books than this strange mix-up. It would have worked much better that way. Maybe TROUJLH and Release are set in the same fictional world and have a connection that I fail to see.
The thing is that Patrick Ness is an outstanding writer with so much potential! Why not focus on one storyline alone? I know both stories could have been fantastic in the way some of his previous books were.

What I love about Release is the writing and especially the humour. There were a few laugh-out-loud moments and I enjoyed it through and through. I also want to thank him for being so open-minded about gay sex in YA novels. The sex scene(s) don't feel dirty or cringe-worthy in any way. He manages to go into detail without really going into detail. It's far from smut-fiction (which I am really glad about), simply normal, romantic, important, emotional and fun. The YA genre needs more of that.

I can't wait to see what the future holds for Patrick Ness. He just announced that he will be writing the screenplay for the Chaos Walking movie starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland. I have high hopes for this adaption - and for his future novels.

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Profile Image for Warda.
1,207 reviews19.7k followers
September 22, 2020
EDIT: I had to change my rating to 5 stars! It's been a few days and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The format of this book, the way the story is told and how it comes together is stunning and such a joy to read.

Original review:
I just adore Patrick Ness so much! This story tugged at my heartstrings and the writing was mesmerising!

This book needs to be read by everyone, just because it's been written by Patrick Ness. The characters he writes, the lessons and themes he infuses accompanied with flawless writing is always a guaranteed win.
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
614 reviews763 followers
March 3, 2018
first off, shout out to that beautiful cover, which, much to my embarrassment, didn't even take notice until I held the book in my hands. 🙈

I knew I was going to love Adam the moment I read the blurb and once I started reading it, all it took was the first page.

Release is an emotionally deep and poignant story that takes place over the course of a single day— a day full of wonderful and awful surprises as it explores and discusses a multitude of themes in a stirring and compulsively readable way.


Adam lives in a deeply religious household, his father is an evangelical preacher and his brother–the golden son–is training to become an evangelical preacher. The day begins with Adam getting flowers for his mum (Americans are going, it's mOm!) then preparing for his ex-boyfriend's going-away party and as it goes on, we get a glimpse of his life, weighed down by his father’s “Yoke”, as he so calls it, until he can achieve the independence and freedom that he so longs for and a life without secrecy or shame.

We experience, along with Adam, the revelations, heartbreaks and the decision to reshape his life in the defining day which Ness illuminates the intensity of his feelings with raw honesty and beauty. He is vulnerable and feels undeserving of love, he feels rejected by his parents for his gay identity, which they refuse to acknowledge, has a seemingly perfect older brother, can't break his attachment to his not-so-great ex Enzo and as a result can't fully commit to his current boyfriend Linus, his best friend Angela, on whom he relies for an outlet for everything has news of her own that’ll throw him for a loop and to top it all off, he has to deal with his boss who sexually harasses him.

As tense as it may seem for a book that takes place in a single day, Ness manages to perfectly form a smart and sensitive story that in no way feels overwhelming to read (except for heartache, you'll feel plenty of that), all the while interweaving a secondary plot thread which involves a supernatural event that unfolds in the same town, but has o connection to Adam’s story in any manner nor does it enrich it.

Adam and parents:

“You have no idea how hard I work to love you.”

As for Adam's relationship with his parents, there’s a phrase in the book, with which I’ll end this particular section, where his father lands a gut-wrenching line after their heated argument, which sufficiently illustrates their difficult and incredibly complex relationship.
It might be one of the saddest things I've read in a book.

Adam and BF Angela:

One of the best parts of this book is the portrayal of Adam's friendship with Angela, a Korean adoptee, who not only is his emotional crutch but is pretty incredible herself. They’re each other's confidant and support system who have nothing but genuine love and understanding for each other. There is so much depth and beauty to this friendship that I continually found myself looking forward to their scene together.

Secondary narrative:

Alongside Adam’s story is another paranormal narrative that follows the ghost of a recently murdered girl which I found so utterly bizarre and detached from the main story.
I read these sections chapter to chapter hoping to discover the link that finally interlocks both stories together and in a way, I supposed it did but I genuinely struggled with it and couldn't wait to get back to Adam's story.
The book minus this particular part could've worked perfectly fine as it didn't add anything new or extra to the main storyline.

Be it fantasy or contemporary, I always find Ness's characters so incredibly touching and easy to connect with in some ways or another and Adam was no exception.
Apart from the secondary plot, Release is a beautiful, heartfelt novel that I'm so grateful to have finally read. The writing is beautiful and evocative yet not overly flowery where themes of sex, shame, acceptance and sexuality are explored in the most thoughtful way possible.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.5k followers
September 27, 2017

Patrick Ness' new book, Release, is essentially two completely different novels in one. The core story is absolutely wonderful, thought-provoking and emotional, funny and sweet, and it reaffirmed why I am such a fan of Ness' writing. While I think I understood the point of the second story, I don't understand why it was necessary to tack it on here, so I guess I would have preferred some sort of explanation or connection between the two.

Some may be so put off by the second story that it may detract from your enjoyment of the core story, and that's unfortunate, because there is so much heart and poetry to be found.

One hell of a day is in store for Adam Thorn. His ex-boyfriend-of-sorts, Enzo, is leaving to move to Atlanta, and he still can't seem to shake his feelings for Enzo or completely process how and why their relationship ended. And although a new boy, Linus, is more than happy to take Enzo's place, and might possibly be in love with Adam, Adam is struggling with feelings of betrayal and low self-worth. He hopes everything will work its way out at Enzo's farewell "get-together."

Meanwhile, there is a crisis at home which roils his ultra-religious family. While Adam has gotten used to his parents' barely hidden disapproval of him (although he's never come out to them), it still hurts to see how easily they will forgive the missteps of his brother, who is following in the footsteps of their preacher father, but that they don't get him. But more and more, Adam knows that your chosen family is so much more important and cherished than the one you're born into.

For Adam, that chosen family is his best friend, Angela, and her family. Adam and Angela have gotten each other since a near-death experience bonded them together as young children. Adam envies Angela's relationship with her free-spirited parents, while Angela is saddened for her friend's treatment at the hands of his family. She's willing to fight his battles for him or with him, and always has his back. But she, too, has a bombshell for Adam which threatens to rock their solid core.

As if the day can't get any worse, things at his part-time job at the "evil international mega-conglomerate" come to a head because of his creepy, lecherous boss, Wade. When Wade gives Adam an ultimatum he really can't refuse despite the implications, it sets up multiple confrontations which put Adam on the short end of the stick. It's really enough to break anyone, much someone struggling as much as Adam is.

Meanwhile, as Adam's life appears to be falling apart, a second story is occurring, one with a plot that is part fantasy, part supernatural (I think). In this story, which takes place at the same time and in some of the same places as Adam's story, a faun with mysterious powers must save his young queen from enacting her revenge, even if it means destruction for them both. There is some overlap to Adam's story (that eventually becomes clear), but I don't actually know if what takes place in the story really does happen in Adam's world.

I'm trying to be somewhat vague, even with Adam's story, because it flows so beautifully as it unfolds. Nothing is necessarily earth-shattering or unique, but there's just so much love, pain, angst, and heart, I fell head over heels for the story. And while the other story is confusing, Ness is still a tremendously poetic guide, so I marveled at his language even as I found myself asking over and over, "What does this have to do with the story?"

Ness knows how to tug at your heartstrings and how to make you laugh. The relationship between Adam and Angela felt so loving and genuine that it makes you wish you had a friendship like that (or perhaps inspires you to call that special friend and let them know how you feel about them). While Adam's situation is a little depressing at times, you know there are so many teenagers just like Adam struggling with these same issues. I know I struggled with some of them myself back before movable type was invented.

One interesting thing, which may or may not put you off this book: Release is the first book I've read that actually has sex scenes between two gay teenagers. (They're of age, though, so relax.) They're not completely explicit but they're definitely more detailed than what you usually see in YA novels. So be warned if that makes you uncomfortable.

Not everyone will love this book, because of that odd second plot. I totally understand that, but it's sad, because I think that at its core, Release is a book about finding the freedom you need to be yourself and live your own way, no matter who you are or how you choose to label yourself. It's also a book about love, both conditional and unconditional, whether it's among family, between friends, or in a romantic sense.

While this isn't quite the home run I had hoped it would be, I still love the way Ness writes, and it will be a while before I can get this book out of my head. I still have to catch up on some of Ness' older books, too.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,555 followers
February 24, 2017
Wow. Just wow. I read this book in just a few short hours, completely transfixed from the first page. There's something very special about Patrick Ness's writing.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.4k followers
May 3, 2018

It's hard to rate this book because I really liked the contemporary story but didn't care at all for the magical realism/fantasy one...

Patrick Ness's writing is a delight though!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,093 reviews17.7k followers
March 25, 2020
Release follows preacher's-son Adam through one day of his life, as he attempts to find closure with his ex. The subjects are small moments: a final party, only significant to Adam. The discussion of homophobia in this was so much and I don’t even really know why it hit me that hard. But this made me cry a lot.

Being gay, especially in a situation where your home doesn’t accept it, is a very distinct experience. Adam is a part of a preacher family with parents who do not really love him. His brother, Marty, loves Adam—with a but. Love between queer people is often the only unconditional love we get. Getting over someone when they’re not only your first love, but arguably your first love ever is a whole other thing. He doesn’t want to let go because he worries that Ezra could at any second come back.

Adam is also in a new relationship with a new guy, Linus. It's very romantic. I'm thinking about how loving despite being told those feelings aren’t real is a radical act.

This just… hit me really hard because it felt like a genuine reflection of feelings I’ve had that I’ve never really been able to put into terms. Falling in love is so hard. It’s especially hard when you’re told you only deserve bad treatment, as Adam is—both by his parents in general and by his sexuality. I think the reason this book hit me so hard is because it works through that grief, that grief of being told you are not loving right but never being shown any love yourself, in all its messy bits.

Here are some quotes from this book that I think about a lot:
→I don’t want this. I don’t want to be this person. I don’t want to always fight.
I want to love.
→“We don’t even know each other, Linus.” “I think maybe we do.”
→He’d heard once that the only people who could effectively treat the trauma of surviving an airplane crash were other survivors of other airplane crashes. You could only instinctively trust someone who had been there.
→Can I love? Can I? Can I be loved?
→When I said to myself that I am not this thing I’ve been told I have to be, that I am this other thing instead, then the label didn’t feel like a prison… it’s not a refutation. It’s a key.
→It was so much easier to be loved than to have to do any of the desperate work of loving.

My only complaint is small. I will be saying absolutely nothing new when I say that the ghost chapters are sort of weird and don’t add that much to the actual narrative. They are meant to work as a parallel story about both misogyny and the way desire for the wrong person can work us into knots. The thing is, Adam’s chapters are so incredibly good that I gave this a five anyway. I am going to defend that decision to my dying day. The emotional catharsis of it all.

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Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
425 reviews1,639 followers
February 28, 2019
5 Stars

“Why did everyone no longer a teenager automatically dismiss any feeling you had then? Who cared if he’d grow out of it? That didn’t make it any less true in those painful and euphoric days when it was happening.”

Sometimes a book comes into your life at the perfect moment and that was this for me. I read Mrs. Dalloway a month-or-so ago, so it was still fresh on my mind when I started this book heavily inspired by Woolf’s work. This book follows a day in Adam’s life as, like Mrs. Dalloway, he prepares for an explosive party that evening.

Adam is a gay-teen living under the control of his evangelical father, preparing to say good-bye to his ex-boyfriend and best-friend, and navigating his own perception of himself. This story beautifully explored the nature of identity and family in ways that made my chest ache.

“They're your parents. They're meant to love you because. Never in spite.”

All the Great Things:

Adam and his best friend (who sometimes swings towards girls) Angela have a conversation about labels and how for some people labels are comforting and for other restrictive. So many books sort of fall on one side of the other instead of acknowledging both are true. This was SO great??

So the side-plot with the dead-girl and the spirit faun thing is confusing and strange.... but it was so interesting. And it ties with Adam’s story so fantastically well? I adore magical realism even when it means I don’t always get answers so maybe that’s why I feel this side-plot is almost magical-realism.

This has the best discussion of sex I’ve ever seen in YA. The sex scenes were explicit, but they weren’t designed to titillate. These scenes highlight the power of choice and the way we treat ourselves, our bodies and those we love. This important discussion is still rare for teens at all, but it’s especially hard to find for queer teens.

This book also includes a nuanced discussion of sexual harassment. This is so important— especially for teens working crappy part-time jobs, as the constantly-in-flux nature of retail and corporate power-imbalances often hide assailants. This story directly tackles those practices as well as the further complications that arise for teenage boys, toxic masculinity and victim blaming.

Linus is the softest theater gay who wears bowties and looks out for his boyfriend and I loved him a lot.

Adam’s struggle with himself and his self-worth was hella-relatable. The overall theme is about acceptance and love, but never manages to seem hokey. Instead, it felt intensely real for someone who was raised where religion is used as a tool to make you hate parts of yourself.

This story also emphasizes the importance of found family. Being blood-related doesn’t always mean someone’s love is unconditional, and this portrayed that in all its devastating nuance. It’s the family Adam chose and the support system that chose him back that held actual power, and this is so important.

In Conclusion:

I’ve read exactly two Patrick Ness books and I’ve five-starred both of them, so excuse me while I run out and buy everything this man has written.
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews99 followers
February 3, 2018
OK, another YA coming of age story. I am not sure when it became interesting. Suddenly, I want to know what happens to these people.

The main characters father is a conservative minister but, notably, light-handed as such.

I wasn't sure why the ghost of “dead woman in a drowned dress” kept showing up and, the height of the faun surprised me. A lot of people complained about the second story. To me, the speculative aspects seemed a bit like a Greek chorus.

I'll repeat the trigger warnings: for homophobia and sexual harassment. The last one is timely.
Profile Image for Philip.
513 reviews682 followers
May 21, 2020
1.5ish stars.

There are two separate storylines within this book. They kind of come together at the end, but not in a big enough way to justify the existence of the second.

I give the secondary “faun/queen” story 1 star because it is non-sensical and pretentious and pointless. Also the faun bugged me, repeating “My queen? My queen? My queen? My queen? My queen!” almost as bad as Titanic, “Rose? Jack! Jack? Rose! Rose! Jack? Rose? Jack!”

I give the main “Adam and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” story 2 stars for being a worthy, sporadically powerful tale told with conceited self-righteousness, and shameless melodrama.

I will try to sensitively separate the valid, heartbreaking circumstances Adam experiences with the treatment they’re given in this story. I’m not sure whether Ness intentionally provided Adam with the broadest, most stereotypical representations of Evil - his sleazy, predator boss (complete with pedo-stache), and truly awful, bible-wielding family - and Good - his perfectly supportive, open-minded best friend’s family and longsuffering angel boyfriend. Maybe it was a purposeful choice to make Adam himself seem more genuine in contrast; he is believably irritating and self-obsessed in the way most teenagers are. I find that between the near-caricaturization of the supporting players and the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink-stuffed-into-a-single-day plot (baby mama drama, workplace sexual assault, coming out, casting out demons, lots of sex, more than one friend moving away), Adam's story is done a disservice.

There's a point near the end of the book in which Adam Triumphs over his Evil Father that, at the time of reading, is so exciting and fulfilling to witness because it would never happen in real life. The beauty of literature. Doesn't every 16-year-old fantasize about Righteously Defeating his Injudicious Parent by saying "eff you, I'm running away and living at my best friend's house, try and stop me (insert raspberry)," while slack-jawed Parent powerlessly stands by? A few minutes after reading, however, I couldn't help but think it selfishly contributes to the oversimplification of a legitimately painful situation. Not to mention the absurdity of Adam screaming about his boyfriend's lush pubes while his dad frantically tries to pray his gay away.

Disappointing because I was such a big fan of A Monster Calls, but maybe I shouldn't give up on Ness just yet?

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,112 followers
October 22, 2018
3.5 ⭐️

"That's the thing isn't it? They can be who they are and I can live with that and let them get on with it. But in return, I'm not going to put up with anything less."

This book is both happy and sad, and I felt A LOT while I was reading.
Adam is gay, and coming to terms with his sexuality while living in a house full of massively religious people is proving considerably difficult (obviously). He has grown further and further away from his parents, and his best friend Angela and her mother are more his family than his own blood relations.
I found it so hard to read at times; coming from a background of Christianity myself, with relatives and friends with faith, I really struggle reading characters who have so misunderstood the teachings of Christianity, and are so full of prejudice and hate. I've been lucky that the Christians I know are actually decent human beings, but I know there are so many others who have really bad experiences with people who claim Christianity.
Adam's father was particularly hard to stomach. How you can stand at the front of a church and preach love, while carrying so much hatred in your own home is baffling.
But there was still so much hope and love in this book. Adam is a truly wonderful character - I loved reading his friendships and relationships. He was a character you couldn't help but love.
The parts I found a bit strange were the chapters in Italics. We follow 'The Queen' or 'The Spirit' as she wanders around (I don't really want to give away who she is. But I thought those chapters were a bit random, and didn't understand how they fitted into the overall story.
A relatively short read, the events in this book take place just over one day, so it is easy to get lost in. Good characters, with an important message, and a hopeful ending.

"Who cared if he'd grow out of it? That didn't make it any less true in those days when it was happening. The truth was always now."
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
November 11, 2017
I AM SO GLAD I FINALLY READ THIS. I adored the writing and the characters so much. However....... while I did really, really enjoy the main story of this book, I was mega confused by the secondary ghost queen plot line thing. Like. Huh? I think a re-read is in order to better grasp what that had to do with everything bc it went right over my head. BUT STILL. Really, really liked this.
Profile Image for Shaun Hutchinson.
Author 24 books4,715 followers
November 20, 2017
I loved this book. Something about it felt very personal, like Ness put a little extra something of himself into this story. The characters felt real, the tension of the story happening all over the course of one day was wonderful. I especially liked the way the sex was handled in an honest way. This is definitely one of my favorite books by Ness (or any author).
Profile Image for Romie.
1,094 reviews1,271 followers
April 16, 2018
It's Patrick Ness, I shouldn't even be surprised to realize I loved this book so damn much.

I truly think this book is only about a few things : friendship, heartbreak, brotherhood, acceptance, and realizing blood doesn't mean family.

#F R I E N D S H I P

You could say I loved the friendship between Angela and Adam, it was probably one of the purest things ever. In your life you always have this one friend you can talk about anything and everything with . . . that's who Adam and Angela are for each other, this very special friend. They have each other's back, they don't feel the need to judge what the other does . . . they've been friends for so long they don't even need the other to say it out loud when something is wrong, they just know.

“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.”

#H E A R T B R E A K

Adam's heart is broken. Broken by his first love and by his family. It's just broken and it won't heal, no matter what he does. And the thing is, he doesn't even know why it's still broken.
Adam was in relationship with a guy once - stupid asshole - who made him feel like the most amazing and beautiful person in the world . . . just before crushing him and making him feel worthless. I don't think you can call this an abusive relationship, but it wasn't healthy. Enzo kept on taking and taking and taking without ever giving. He didn't care about what it was like to be Adam. He told Adam he loved him and then he took it back. He took it all back. Made him feel unloved. Even when Adam is in a relationship with amazing Linus - my precious savage son - he's still heartbroken and afraid.

But then Linus noticed the tears squeezing out of Adam's eyes on either side and, with gentleness, brushed them away. “Adam?”
“Please don't leave me unloved,” Adam answered and cried some more, ashamed.

Then we have Adam being heartbroken over his family . . . his family who just won't accept him the way he is . . . a family who truly thinks that praying will ‘heal’ their son of his gayness, a family who scared this son away. You're supposed to love your child unconditionally, no matter what . . . you're not supposed to make him feel unloved.

“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.

Last thing. When your son comes to you and say his boss is sexually harassing him, don't say he asked for it. Never. How could you do that to your own son?

“Making myself available?” he said, feeling the fury rise. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
His dad looked up sharply, angrily. “Do not use language like that in God's House.”
“But it's okay to accuse your son of leading his manager into sexual harassment bordering on outright assault?”
“I'm just saying, maybe unconsciously-”
“I'm seventeen. He's my gross boss with a gross moustache and looks like a road so well travelled I need to wash my hands after just being near him.”
“You let him put his hands on your thighs.”
This landed like a slap. The words of blame he had put on his own self, now coming out of the mouth of his father.
“So I was asking for it,” Adam said, his mouth dry. “Is that what you're saying?”

#B R O T H E R H O O D

I wasn't the biggest fan of Marty at first, but I knew he wasn't truly bad. He said some stupid shit he learned from his dad, but that wasn't him speaking, it never was him. And when he finally realized he had to think for himself, I wanted to hug him and say something like "You go Glen Coco" just because I felt like it.

“I've committed my life to this. I'm not perfect, bro, far from it, but I know that love can be perfect. I just . . . I want you to know that I know I've been doing what they've been doing. For too long. I've put conditions on you. I've looked at you with pity.”
“I know. It's been a carnival of delights.”
“And I'm sorry for it, Adam. I can't say sorry enough. But my world isn't safe if I can't love my own brother. That's what it really felt like today. And that's not a world I can live in. So I love you, Adam. And whatever help you need from me to fix all this with Mom and Dad . . . Well, you go it.”

#A C C E P T A N C E

At some point, enough is enough. You can't be treated like shit all your life. You can't pretend everything is okay when it's not. You can't look like you're happy when you're definitely not.
At some point you have to move on, you have to let go. You have to admit what you once had is gone. You have to do what's good for you.

“I hoped and hoped and hoped. For a year and a half. And then he dumped me. For the worst, stupidest reasons. And I guess . . . I guess I still hoped. Even when I knew I shouldn't. Even when I had better things right in front of me.” He looked over at Linus. “He was the first way out for me. The first way out of all the rest of this stuff that races and races. The first window to a world that could be, a world I'm kind of desperate for. And he had my heart, I admit that.”

#B L O O D D O E S N T M E A N F A M I L Y

When Adam finally saw how toxic his parents were, when he realized he had people waiting for him to ask for help . . . that's when he understood his parents weren't his real family. Because you create your family with people who deeply love you no matter what. People who won't think less of you for who you are.

“And I'm going from here to meet Angela. And I'm going to the party with her. And I'm not going to stop seeing my boyfriend.”
“Yes, you are.”
And here, Adam did something he couldn't ever remember doing. He stepped towards his father, as a physical challenge, a show of the bravery his anger was making him feel but which he knew would run out fast.
His father, astonished, stepped back.
“Do you know why I'm going to do all those things?” Adam said. “Because 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 is that?”
“I am your father-”
“A father with conditions. I have to be a certain way to be your son.”
“Through prayer, everything is possible-”
“I don't know, I've prayed for years to change your heart. Nothing's happened so far.”


Also I would like to quickly mention the side story . . . at first I wasn't sure if I liked it or not, but thought out the book I saw how much sense it made. This story just had to be here. And I really ended up liking it!


This book made me cry. I found myself so much in Adam, and I just wanted to hug and protect him. I wanted things to be okay for him.

Around the Year in 52 books 2017.
27. A book by one of your favorite authors.
October 22, 2017
“Maybe hearts don’t ever stop breaking once broken. Maybe they just keep on beating, until they’re broken again, and then they keep on beating still”.

“Tal vez los corazones no dejan de romperse una vez los han roto. Tal vez sólo siguen latiendo, hasta que se rompen de nuevo... y aún así continúan latiendo”.

Hay libros a los que les sobran la mitad de las páginas y Release es uno de ellos. Aquí nos encontramos con la historia del peor día de la vida de Adam Thorne. Adam es un chico gay que, desafortunadamente, ha crecido en medio de una familia ultra religiosa y que, por supuesto, finge demencia con respecto a lo que su hijo es. El peor día de la vida de Adam empieza con malas noticias sobre la partida de la ciudad de su exnovio, cambios drásticos de planes con su mejor amiga Angela, situaciones de acoso en su trabajo y crisis amorosas con el chico con el que está saliendo ahora.

Hasta ese punto la historia es maravillosa, pero todo empieza a revolverse cuando en medio de cada capítulo narrado por Adam encontramos otra historia paralela en la que el realismo mágico envuelve todo. En ella se mezclan el espíritu de una chica asesinada, una Reina misteriosa, un fauno y voces del bosque que no entendemos sino hasta el capítulo final de Release.

En sí mismos, los capítulos que narra Adam de ese día en el que todo su mundo se está derrumbando son maravillosos. Patrick Ness plasma la angustia adolescente que un chico puede sentir con respecto a su identidad sexual, la represión de no poder mostrarse tal como es en un pueblo pequeño y de miras estrechas, la incertidumbre de dejar ir a un primer amor y concentrarse completamente en las personas del presente que lo quieren más que a nada en el mundo y, sobre todo, el miedo de que tu mundo como lo conoces cambie de la noche a la mañana.

Hay un punto del libro en el que Adam reflexiona sobre lo fácil que es dejarse amar por cualquiera, así no sea suficiente para ti, que vivir por completo en ese punto llamado soledad. Así mismo, Patrick Ness va soltando pequeñas situaciones que nos hacen pensar sobre el supuesto amor incondicional de los padres, la injusticia de los prejuicios y el constante vivir de apariencias cuando todo el mundo te dice que lo que eres está mal.

Si bien el personaje principal de Release es Adam, la historia se fortalece muchísimo gracias a Angela, su mejor amiga y apoyo incondicional, y a Linus, su pareja actual. Angela demuestra que, muchas veces, podemos contar más con nuestros amigos que incluso con nuestra propia familia. Y muestra, además, que los verdaderos amigos no te juzgan por absolutamente nada y que están allí para decirte lo tonto que estás siendo cuando tienes una oportunidad frente a ti y no la estás tomando. Linus, por otra parte, es el chico más amable y comprensivo con el que te podrías topar. Él es justo la persona paciente y atenta que Adam necesita en este punto álgido de la vida y, gracias a él, Patrick Ness hace que entendamos que el amor no tiene por qué ser una jaula ni una cámara de seguridad que te vigile todo el día; al contrario, el amor debe ser aquello en lo que está allí para ti en los mejores y peores momentos. No es algo que te enjaula, es algo que te libera.

Con respecto a la historia paralela extraña, poco me queda por decir más allá de que hizo que me aburriera tremendamente cuando llegaba a esos capítulos porque eran tan disconexos que sentía que estaba leyendo dos libros diferentes. En mi opinión, Release hubiera sido un libro de 4, incluso 5, estrellas si se hubiera omitido ese experimento extraño.
Profile Image for Dalziel Mapp.
165 reviews40 followers
June 18, 2018
*Allows my tears to write this review for me*

Going into this I wasn't sure what to expect, I hadn't even read the blurb. All I knew was it contained GAY and that lots of people had a lot of mixed reviews on it. My adoration for his other series, the chaos walking trilogy, did give me high expectation. Thankfully stumbling like an emotional wreck walking out of this I was happy to have had them met.

Patrick Ness made me feel every single human emotion possible and then some more while reading this. Parts made me want to throw the book at the wall in pure rage, not because of poor writing but due to people I wouldn't mind seeing get hit by a truck. Other parts made my heart swell with so much warmth I could've been the sole reason for climate change.

The main character, Adam Thorn, was easy to connect with. I really felt for him on every part of this journey and honestly would like to have continued on with him for much longer than we get given. So many questions without answers are burning through me.

As for the other "storyline" that ran through this, it felt out of place and unnecessary to the plot, not that it was bad. Just felt like it was there to bulk the book out a bit.

Release was an incredible adventure I implore you all to discover.

Profile Image for Mara YA Mood Reader.
341 reviews270 followers
January 5, 2020
Wow. That of the most sexually explicit YA novels I’ve read so far. I feel like I’ve come away from this with so much more knowledge about male/male sex than before. Actually I feel now properly educated about male/male sex. Porn can be so misleading so I’m glad that’s all cleared up for me now....*coughs*

So aside from all the sex—which honestly I prefer in YA because it’s much more relatable to me—the plot is intense!

I could’ve easily read this in one page-gripping sitting! But I had to force myself to ungrip and go to sleep. I’m not going to summarise the plot because I don’t do that as I prefer to go into books blind and get hyped off others’ enthusiasms.

And let me tell you: as someone who, like Adam, grew up in a VERY Christian home but also, despite being raised in Church and very religiously, did not feel connected to that lifestyle or beliefs as their family does this was incredibly RELATABLE!

Ness’s portrayal of an oblivious-just-pray-about-it-family WAS ON POINT! I was like, yes! Exactly! My family was EXACTLY the same!

I felt the author did a superb job in this area and I hope people don’t come away from it feeling like there’s just too much religion in this novel and I hope you can see it for what it is: it’s real, this is real people’s lives. It was my life, these were my family’s reactions when they discovered that their daughter with a promise ring (save yourself for marriage ring), was not only “experimenting with girls” (not my words) but also quite sexually active with boys as well and at a rather young age too. Even my older brother cried when he found out....I’ve never been the same since—that shame *shudders/barfs*

I didn’t really see the connection to Judy Blume’s Forever. Which, of course, I had to read first when I saw that Release was inspired by it. Perhaps the sexual situations were gleaned from Forever because they were quite.....educational.....?

Release was a unique and fast paced and intriguing read. It was unlike any other YA I’ve read or at least one of the rare gems I just love to discover.

But I did take a couple days to contemplate between 4 or 5 stars. It wasn’t perfect of course. The alternative fantasy-plot that runs along the contemporary felt so out of place here. I didn’t understand its significance at all. I must of missed the connection the two plots had to each other by reading too fast because I just didn’t see the connection at all. Perhaps someone can explain it to me?

The ending was also abrupt and felt kind of like ?? But it works. And I still can’t get this story out of head 3 days later. I’ll definitely be taking a look at Ness’s other works as this is the first I’ve read of his and it was just brilliant.
Profile Image for Henk.
875 reviews
February 8, 2020
Uneven, but in the end the visceral depiction of all the uncertainties and pains of growing up gay in rural America outweighed for me the vagueness of the spirit queen plot - 3.5 stars
Why did everyone no longer a teenager automatically dismiss any feeling you had then? Who cared if he’d grow out of it? That didn’t make it any less true in those painful and euphoric days when it was happening.
The truth was always now, even if you were young. Especially if you were young.

Gay Adam, in rural America, with his tense relationship with his preacher father (If you can't pray it away, it's not a real problem) and snippy mom formed the heart of this book for me.
The faun part is a bit vague, but has some commonalities with Mrs Dalloway (as does Adam’s story, starting off with getting flowers and all the impactful encounters and a party at the end squeezed in one day), and Woolf her death comes back in the bricks in the pocket of the elusive Queen.
Ness takes on quite a lot of societal themes in this book, like the opioid epidemic and power abuse in minimum wage jobs.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way - Tolstoy
They’re your parents. They’re meant to love you because. Never in spite.
Release gave me Boy Erased vibes (I’m yet to read the book but am thinking of the movie with the threat of anti gay conversion camps). Adam his father is the preacher of a evangelical church, making the situation of his son being gay quite problematic. We have very profound sentences on the uncertainties that gay children go through in respect to their parents, like:
Still, his parents loved him. They must. In their own way. But that way seemed to depend on an unspoken set of rules Adam was expected to know and abide by; and to be fair, he probably did know them. It was abidance that was a problem.
And we have the relationship with his brother who has his own problems and secrets, and has his own way with words to hurt Adam:
I love you but... it was always, always, I love you but. and You got lost on your journey somewhere.
We do have snide clapbacks: That's what everyone says who never bothered to go on a journey in the first place. and I’m not responsible for your life feeling safe.

Fortunately we also get to know Angela, the Korean girl adopted in a half Dutch family. I found her relationship with Adam heartwarming and full of humor:
I’m supposed to be offering my own witness on what Christ has done for me.
Made you gay and put you in the best possible family for dealing with that? At least He has a sense of humour.

Young love, well reflected
Adam is not just struggling with his family, but also with his love life. He tries to get over a boy while wondering if he loves his current boyfriend enough. With this Linus we have incredibly well done sex scenes, with all the fears of not being good enough and not having true love coming back poignantly.

All in all this book felt like a serious version of Love, Simon and it got to me on an emotional level, especially in the visceral confrontations between father and son. The faun parts added not so much to the story but overall this was again a satisfying book from Patrick Ness.
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books964 followers
December 15, 2017
Powerful, mostly. The front story tells a heartbreakingly realistic picture of teenage love, parental relations, friendship and more. Ness doesn’t shy away from serious issues and showcases these characters with brutal honesty. I found the story eerily relatable, and I suspect many others will as well.

The side story is a weird symbolic fantasy that reminded me of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and his Land Of Make Believe. Through veiled parallels, we see a fantastic charade of the main plot. Most of the time I thought this side story was a ridiculous waste of time, but in other moments it was a pleasant escape from the real world and put a kind of galactic context to life crisis moments. In that aspect it works.

Overall, expertly written and entertaining even as it is heartbreaking at times. Also an honorable attempt at bringing Mrs Dalloway to a younger audience. I’m left with the desire to immediately read it again, which is always a good sign.
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,754 reviews2,580 followers
September 14, 2017
Reviewed on

Release, is quite an unusual story in that it follows two plots which eventually meet. Now that may not be something different, but these two stories are set in different worlds (sort of). The real world, and the spirit world.

We meet Adam, a young, gay man trying to just be himself and live his life, but he has the added upset of people not understanding his sexuality, including his religious parents. He also has serious problems with his boss making advances towards him, and an ex which he can’t seem to let go of, even-though he has a boyfriend, Linus, and his ex Enzo is dating someone else.

He has the most wonderful best friend Angela, but he doesn’t know how to be comfortable in himself, when others aren’t comfortable or accepting towards him.

In the spirit world we meet a murdered, teenage drug addict, who has come out of the river and wants vengeance on her killer in the small town.

By the time I had turned the last page I realised that I had found a book that quite a few people will be able to relate to. Adam’s story is told so vividly that sometimes it felt like I was in the story, not reading it. It makes you stop and think; hopefully books like this will make people realise that everybody has the right to be whoever they want to be, gay, straight, bi, etc, and no-one has the right to be judgemental about it.

The book is completely unusual and strange, plus a little confusing in parts. I haven’t read any of Patrick Ness’s work before, but apparently that is his style of writing, moving away from the conventional – I like it.

A poignant story, with a wonderful plot. I’ll have to look out for Patrick Ness from now on.
Profile Image for Sarah.
402 reviews138 followers
June 15, 2017
3.5 stars.

This book was like two stories in one. At first, it seemed to me like the stories weren't really connected at all and the change from one story to the other felt like a disconnect. I felt that disconnect between the two right up until that amazing ending where the two stories overlapped in such a wonderful way. I appreciate a great ending and that ending was so so fantastically beautiful, I loved it. I sort of wish the two stories would have been more interconnected throughout but then I know that that ending wouldn't have been so amazing if they were. For a very long time, I only liked Adam's story. I found the ghost story to be sort of confusing but then towards the end, I started to like it. I also thought the writing in the ghost chapters wasn't as enjoyable as the writing in Adam's chapters.

Something that was absolutely fabulous was the openness that Adam and Angela had. There was no holding back at all, especially when it came to talking about sex and relationships. Sometimes YA books hold back when it comes to talking about sex but this book was like a breath of fresh air. Their friendship was awesome. It felt authentic and special and I loved it. The romance was also so sweet.

I would recommend this.


"It was so much easier to be loved than to have to do any of the desperate work of loving."

"the pain is so distant as to be in another room."

"His chest burned, so much he couldn't tell where the anger stopped and the wound began. Because there was always a wound, it seemed, kept freshly opened by a family who also kept saying they loved him."

Profile Image for Amelia.
173 reviews49 followers
March 2, 2018
I have mixed feelings about this book.

So I really enjoyed the story but at the same time I was so confused, mostly when reading in the spirits parts. I honestly had no idea what was happening!!
Profile Image for joey (thoughts and afterthoughts).
139 reviews145 followers
October 2, 2017
Thoughts a year before I read Release:
My soul is already crushed. Just Ness things.

Thoughts upon finishing Release:
Well...shit, I love Ness, but even I'll join the masses and say what the hell did I just read?

That's not fair. The A-Plot in the contemporary story (re: Adam Thorn exploring his sexuality while combating his religious family, confusing relationships, and his drive for a better future for himself) is spectacular. If I were to review Release on that narrative thread alone, it would surely be in the 4's/5. Truly. Call me biased but Ness always seems to write nuanced relationships -- be it friend, family, or found family's -- that oozes with voice and presence that make the stories of the sub characters as important as the protagonists themselves. That is something.

But. (And that's a hefty but.)

The B-Plot in this story is...what...huh?

Let me first say that I am unfamiliar with the Mrs. Dalloway plot. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I knew what that story was about, but part of me wonders if that's the fault of the reader (me) for not fully appreciating the weirdness or if it was just presented in an unsatisfactory way. Who can know?

So...this B-Plot. The revelation by the end was somewhat rewarding, but that might have just been my skewed understanding and takeaway from the Queen/Faun plot line more than its leniency towards Dalloway in general. My take on Release, as it so often is wrong, is that if the experience and sensation of feeling 'release' is the ideal state of betterment in any situation, then we, as readers, do not necessarily have to look toward fantastical "fictional" stories to find comfort and self-actualization for our own livelihood. That finding release in the real world by way of the A-Plot (Adam Thorne) is equally beautiful and heartbreaking and worthwhile as it is to live and learn it vicariously through a B-Plot (Queen/Faun Fantasy).

This is all to say everyone falls, but it's how we manage ourselves in spite of it that matters. And yeah we could have something teach us that (which is completely fine) but if we learn that on our own, that's great in its own way too.

Does that make sense? Probably not. I am all kinds of confused on this one. Whatever.

... 2-2.5/5. My heart hurts.
Profile Image for Michael.
177 reviews769 followers
June 22, 2017
Oh wow, Patrick Ness.

I don't quite know what to say. This book dealt with the messiness that life can be, with self worth, with love, with religion, with friendship, with the concept of family, with spirits, and with so much more.

It was weird and emotional and powerful and I loved it.
Profile Image for prag ♻.
594 reviews592 followers
June 4, 2017
It’s okay not to be okay, you know.

TW: sexual abuse, murder, homophobia (it’s kind of a dark book at times so just,, think before you pick it up)

2.5 stars. I have absolutely no idea how I feel about this book. It’s dark, gritty and confusing — but there’s something about it I liked all the same.
It’s definitely For Adam Thorn wants to get away. Adam Thorn wants to leave, with an ache in his gut so acute it feels like vertigo. Adam Thorn wished he was going away with the person going away at the end of tonight’s going away party.
Well, maybe he does.

There’s so much that happens in an eight chapter novel, it’s a little hard to keep up. In fact, if you asked me to recount all that happened in the book, I probably wouldn’t be able to. (And it’s been about an hour since I finished it.)

There are two plotlines, two POVs, and it’s safe to say I absolutely hated one of them. It borders on magical realism, it’s basically a dead girl come back as a Queen of another world, out to take revenge on her murderer. Except it’s not as cool as it sounds. It’s not interesting at all.
She can smell violence. Terrible things have happened here. Not once, but many times, over many years. The despair of humans. Their fear. The violence they do themselves.

“The violence we do ourselves,” she whispers.
An anger rises. She pushes the door, sudden, fast, so hard it falls off its hinges. She storms in, her bare feet raising burn marks on the floor, whiffs of smoke vanishing as she steps. “You are here! You are here! You would do this to me?”

She stops in the middle of the room. She is alone, wonders why she thought she wasn’t.
But it was the past, of course.

Where?? does it make any sense?? I read this page about five times but I’m still at a loss to what it meant.

It’s definitely not Patrick Ness’ best work: but even then, it has bits that made me scream #relatable.


She thinks, feels, reaches out, and knowing exactly what blame is — a human construct, one of its blackest and most selfish and self-binding — she can find further strands of it, emanating in all directions, for blame is something that is shared but denied in equal measure.

Queer book #2 of pride month
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
721 reviews254 followers
April 10, 2020
I’ve never read anything like Release before; It felt like I was experiencing two separate books in one.

The contemporary portion was brilliant. Release delves into the story of a queer teen living in a strictly religious household. We follow seventeen year old Adam’s journey through friendship and love while he tackles a troubling family dynamic.

Interspersed between chapters was a separate storyline of the paranormal/fantasy genre. We follow a ghost, faun and queen. This was obviously meant to serve as an analogy of Adam’s life, and while everything did tie up nicely in the end, these parts felt severely out of place most of the time. I couldn’t connect to this storyline, nor was I interested in it. All I wanted was to go back to Adam.

Something that surprised me (in a good way) was the portrayal of sexual harassment, and how carefully Ness handles it. It’s not often that this topic is addressed in regards to young boys, and this book shines light on everything while also discussing it in certain depth. It makes me really happy to know there are books out there like Release that direct attention to important subjects like this!

Patrick Ness is a brilliant writer. The way he was able to convey emotions baffles me. I really appreciated everything communicated through Adam’s character and his journey of letting go, finding his happiness.

I’m so glad I stumbled upon this book! If it weren’t for the fantasy element, Release would have been an easy 5 star read. Nonetheless I think it’s an incredibly important book, and I’d recommend it to many.
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