A surreal story filled with coming of age wisdom, whimsy, and magic, Release by Patrick Ness is about the small moments that can make a big impact on one person’s life.
Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.
But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.
I have long been a huge fan of Ness’s writing, and with every book he never ceases to surprise me. Release is no exception.
I loved basically everything about this book: the plot, the writing, the unexpected coming together of two seemingly unrelated stories, the characters, the setting. Just … all of it. But there are a few things that really stand out to me as making this book particularly special, in addition to just being excellent.
One of the biggest things that stands out to me about this book is Ness’s handling of teenage emotions. This is something he has always handled exceptionally, but he really just tackles the subject head-on in Release, especially the way adults tend to disregard teenage emotions as being fleeting and therefore untrue. He writes:
He had loved Enzo. Loved him. And who cared if it was the love of a fifteen- and then a sixteen-year-old. Why did that make it any less? They were older than those two idiots in Romeo and Juliet. 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.
The idea of letting go is what infuses the title of Release, and throughout the events of this book, Adam faces a number of things he must learn to let go of. Through Adam’s experiences, the book shows the beauty in accepting these losses and changes. In many ways, it’s about accepting the loss of innocence; of childhood. Of the things that once brought you comfort but no longer do. It’s also about letting go of the things that hold you back: lost love, a problematic home life, even your own misconceptions about the people in your life.
Adam has a truly horrible day — but through it, he finds revelation. Friends he didn’t know were friends; support he didn’t know was there; love, right in front of his face if only he knew to look for it.
Interwoven with Adam’s story is a surreal, magical parallel story infused with whimsy and mysticism — and though it seems strange and unrelated, the two plot lines come together in truly spectacular fashion for an ending that is so simple and pure and perfect.
This book will be something special to so many readers, and though I read it as an adult, I will still treasure it for my very own reasons.
Release is in stores today.