REVIEW | Release by Patrick Ness

release patrick ness


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.

Trigger Warnings: 

  • Sexual abuse/assault
  • Homophobia
  • Abusive parents


I’ll just be honest here, I don’t know how to review this book. It was short, yes, and I think it happened over the course of 24 hours but just…so much happened in that time period. Not so much where I thought “wow, I’m really overwhelmed by this” but it’s enough to make it hard to summarize. I also think it’s probably best you don’t know what happens, because going into it not knowing much I think personally made the story better.


Well. I don’t really know what the plot was. It was just sort of bad event after bad event, flowing into one another and the way it was told was really beautiful. I’m not even one for sex scenes, I really prefer books without them, but even the sex scenes were written beautifully. It wasn’t so beautiful that it gave me a headache, it was a really nice balance.

I think this story was more character driven than plot driven. It was about Adam discovering himself and his sexuality, and his interactions and relationships with other people (not just his romantic and sexual relationships).

There was also another story being told alongside this one that I will admit I really struggled to get, despite enjoying it. At the start of this novel, Adam mentions how a girl in his town was recently murdered after being involved in drugs and her story after her death is being told at the same time as his. They both flowed in the same direction and came to the same conclusion, and it was a nice addition, but I think I’d need help from an English professor to understand what that meaning was.


So, like I said, this is a very character driven story so the characters heavily involved in Adam’s life had enough depth to them that I knew who was speaking without having to look at who said it. I, personally, don’t think that’s a common thing to find in YA. What I especially loved, though, was the relationships they had with each other. Especially Angela and Adam’s. They’re such a strong support system, and really showed that you can have strong love between two people who are nothing more than friends.

I also liked Adam and Marty’s relationship (they are brothers). Although they are completely different, I liked the development that happened between the two as the story progresses and it wasn’t just “gay man with a homophobic brother”.


The writing style was really good. Almost poetic, but not heavily so. It was enough for me to deal with, basically, because sometimes I feel like writers can go way over the top with it but I don’t feel like Patrick Ness did. The only other book I’ve read by him is A Monster Calls, and that was also written so beautifully that I read it in one sitting and as soon as it was over I was in tears. I wasn’t quite in tears with this one, but the impact was very similar and I think the way he writes their stories has a big part of this.


I can’t remember exactly, but I think there was bisexual rep in here (twice, although one preferred to label themselves as ‘fluid’). There was, obviously, gay rep. I think Angela is also Korean, as there was a section where they briefly spoke about it. I might be missing things as I need to get some new post-it notes to keep track of it while I read it!


I really, really liked this read. I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads. I wasn’t actually expecting that great things from it because I tried to read another book by Patrick Ness once, I can’t quite remember the name of it but I didn’t really enjoy it that much and I thought maybe A Monster Calls was a bit of a one off for this writer but no, it definitely wasn’t!

I would highly recommend this, especially to other gay men who are struggling with parents that don’t accept them or not very nice boyfriends/sexual partners, I feel like this as a strong message that was really delivered well.

Plus, the cover is gorgeous!

Until next time,

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3 thoughts on “REVIEW | Release by Patrick Ness

  1. Great review Lorna!! I didn’t know whether to read this or not, but I really want to support ownvoices gay books so I’ll jump! Now that I know better what to expect, I think I could actually like this, especially with the story alongside the main character’s!

    Liked by 1 person

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