- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: HarperTeen (September 19, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062403192
- ISBN-13: 978-0062403193
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Release Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Adam, a rising senior with complex social and familial relationships, experiences the worst day of his life to date. The former boyfriend for whom he still has romantic feelings, and his BFF—witty and wise Korean adoptee Angela who might be into both guys and girls—are both going away; his older brother, a seminary student, has gotten a new girlfriend pregnant and turns to Adam to help smooth the way for breaking the news to their fundamentalist preacher father; and Adam's boss fires him when the boy won't accept his sexual advances. Ness manages to pack all this drama into a coherent and compulsively readable story line peopled with credible, rounded characters among the teens and the adults. A secondary plot thread involves a supernatural event unfolding in the same small town, but this extra layer doesn't adhere to Adam's story in any manner that enriches either. Adam's emotional geography is fully stripped and revealed through his conversations with those in his life and his actions. He feels rejected by his parents for his gay identity, which they refuse to acknowledge, and worries about whether he is capable of treating his new boyfriend fairly in light of his lingering feelings for his former one. While there is explicit sex depicted here, it falls well within the bounds of YA and is important in building plot and characters. Discussions revolving around a repressive version of fundamentalist Christianity are also relevant and realistic. VERDICT An excellent choice for all teen collections.—Francisca Goldsmith, Library Ronin, Worcester, MA
“Every sentence in this gorgeous little novel feels perfect and necessary. This focused, humane book is a joy.” (The New York Times Book Review)
★ “Part character study, part reckoning, this is a painful, magical gem of a novel that, even when it perplexes, will rip the hearts right out of its readers.” (Booklist (starred review))
★ “Literary, illuminating, and stunningly told.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
★ “A frank, riveting portrayal of a gay teenager’s sexual awakening.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
★ “Ness manages to pack all this drama into a coherent and compulsively readable story line peopled with credible, rounded characters among the teens and the adults.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“This book’s self-awareness lends its events a dreamlike feel. Though it functions as an accessible, standalone coming-of-age story, awareness of its influences makes for a layered reading experience.” (The Horn Book)
“Patrick Ness is an insanely beautiful writer.” (John Green)
“Release is beautiful, enchanting, exquisitely written; the novel builds to an adrenaline-surged ending that only Patrick Ness can deliver. This is an incredible work of intertwined, mirrored stories that left me slack-jawed and in awe of one of the true master storytellers of our time.” (Andrew Smith, Michael L. Printz Honor–winning author of Grasshopper Jungle and Winger)
“Hilarious, gripping, and viciously insightful throughout. The novel’s main points are continuously, beautifully conveyed: family consists of people chosen as much as those related by blood; and while all meaningful and positive relationships are difficult and messy, their maintenance is essential for fulfillment.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“This compelling coming-of-age story will resonate with readers of all ages, and will remind everyone that the sun always rises again tomorrow.” (Brightly)
Top customer reviews
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-- An Unusual Format --
This is an unusual book in that it follows two separate stores, with each chapter alternating between the two. One is a modern realistic storyline depicting an interesting day in the life of a gay teen. The other is a paranormal story, featuring a resurrected murdered girl who is sharing a body with a Queen of another realm.
-- Adam’s Story --
The first story follows a day in the life of Adam Thorn, a young gay teen living in an extremely religious household (his father is a pastor). This isn’t one of those stories when a gay teen is deeply in the closet or shunned by his parents, thrown out, or otherwise abused. The author does manage to illustrate, however, the manner in which certain religious beliefs can damage relationships and tear a family apart.
But Adam is comfortable with his sexuality, even though it isn’t a subject he ever discusses with his parents, even though he’s fairly certain they are well aware that he’s gay.
Because of his parent’s beliefs and their unwillingness to acknowledge Adam’s sexuality, however, he feels rejected and unloved by them but forges ahead despite their distance. This is depicted perfectly by his father’s off-handed comment to Adam:
“You have no idea how hard I work to love you.”
Adam is also, suffering from a broken heart. Though he is currently dating a boy who adores him (Linus), Adam is unable to completely commit to him because he is still pining horribly for his ex, Enzo, who didn’t treat Adam all that well while they were dating and subsequently dumped him. A going-away party is planned for Enzo later that evening, which Adam will be attending with Linus.
Earlier that day, Adam’s brother Marty (who is training to become an evangelical preacher like their father) drops a bombshell on Adam, which kind of shakes Adam’s foundations to the core (as well as results in a full-blown family crisis). While trying to be understanding and supportive of his brother’s predicament, Marty makes a hurtful comment regarding Adam’s sexuality, which kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day.
The day continues to challenge Adam when at work, his boss makes unwelcome sexual advances toward him and gives him a creepy ultimatum if he wants to keep his job. Then to top it all off, Adam learns that Angela — his dearest and best friend, confidant an emotional crutch – has another bombshell to drop on poor Adam.
There is a lot more going on with Adam but suffice it to say that by the end of the day, he’s able to overcome everything that the fates have thrown at him and, perhaps for the first time in his life, he is clear on who he is and what is really important to him. He understands that in this life, we have the option of choosing our family and by the end of the story, Adam is ready to reshape his life and move forward with his head held high.
Additionally, though things started out rocky with him and his brother, I was happy to see their relationship strengthen by the end of the book, as they formed an alliance in preparation for the new challenges they’ll both have to face.
-- The Paranormal Story --
The second storyline follows the tale of a murdered girl who was a drug addict and killed by her boyfriend. She emerges from a lake and is followed by a Faun, who is invisible to her and who continually refers to her as “My Queen”. The body appears to be inhabited by two spirits: the spirit of the murdered girl and the spirit of a Queen of another realm (from what I can gather, although it wasn’t quite clear to me where she was from).
The girl has one plan for the day: to get revenge on the person who killed her. The Faun’s goal is to make the Queen remember who she is, for if the Faun is unsuccessful, the entire world will be destroyed — so we have the element of the “ticking time bomb” thrown in for extra suspense.
This tale, though it seemed separate from Adam’s story, does merge together with Adam’s life at the end, in a surprising and satisfying way.
-- The Verdict --
I admit that it took me awhile to adjust to the strange format of the book with the seemingly unrelated alternating storylines but it ended up working for me as it all came together in the final pages.
This was a wonderful book and I loved how the author portrayed Adam and his friends talking openly and positively about sex and being gay, all behind a very powerful message: We deserve to be loved.
The book deals with several real-world issues: sexual harassment, shame, religious extremism, love, family bonds and being true to oneself. There is certainly pain and heartache in parts of the story and it is an intense read. But there is a lightness to it as well, and the overarching theme is a positive one. Because of this, I found Release to be a beautiful, heartfelt novel that was life-affirming and a delight to read.
The characters are realistic, vivid and well-developed, and you can help falling in love with them by the end of the book (well, maybe except for Enzo). Recommended!
Most recent customer reviews
I'm pretty conflicted about this one. On one hand, I thought Adam's story and development were absolutely fantastic.Read more