Saturday 27 May 2017

Patrick Ness’s new YA novel Release, like several of his recent books, mixes teen issues with a supernatural element. In Release the tie is more tenuous than his previous books, The Rest of Us Just Live Here and More Than This. With a single action, the prick of a rose thorn, a link is created between Adam Thorn and a murdered girl who rises from the lake. Adam, the son of  a fundamentalist preacher, wants out of the ‘Yoke’ - the stranglehold that his family have on him: he’s tired of living a life of deception. Gay, already having experienced a fraught relationship and finding out about a deeper love, Adam is essentially a great guy who would like nothing more than to be open to his family and accepted unconditionally by them. One Saturday things come to a head, and things in Adam’s life are turned upside down. There’s a going-away party for Enzo, the boy he once loved; his best friend has announced she’s leaving to spend a year in Europe; his sleazy boss is coming on to him; and on top of this, his brother, minister-to-be, has just dropped a bombshell. You can’t help but like Adam and his friends, and care about Adam’s eventual confrontation with his father, and his growing awareness of relationships, first love and what is a meaningful relationship can offer him. Running alongside this story is the surreal tale of the murdered girl/The Queen who rises from the lake seeking revenge. She’s watched over by a 7-foot faun who follows her through the town as she creates chaos and confusion. This element of the book allows Ness to show the flipside of teen life in this town, sadness, anger and abuse. Release is an intriguing book of two part. While it doesn’t always work, it’s beautifully written and Ness’s portrayal of a young gay man confronting his authoritarian father and developing an understanding of youthful love is superbly told.
 {Reviewed by STELLA}

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