Yes, I am one of those people who had not read anything by Ness until recently. I picked up A Monster Calls last month and it is absolutely amazing. Of course, I had to read another of his books asap. Release was way different than A Monster Calls and I had expected it to be kind of fantasy maybe dystopian, but I guess I should have read the blurb before. Nevertheless, I ended up enjoying Release a lot.
The book was a quick read, yet I did not really fathom that it only covered a day. While there are books where more things happen story-wise, I was never bored reading as the narrative continuously progressed and the plot extended. I like the story’s pacing and its protagonist Adam Thorne. I would not describe him as remarkable in any way, but just a decent person that wants to spend time with his best friend and boyfriend. It is exactly that what I like about him and the story in general. To me, it seems very close to life and apparently, Ness processed own experiences in the novel. I feel sorry for Adam in that his parents give him such a hard time and often wanted to hug him saying that he was doing great and that nothing was wrong with him. Real love is what you make of it and not what other people say is the ‘right’ way to love.
Release has some of the best-written sex scenes I have ever read, not only taking homosexual sex scenes into account. Ness does neither fetishise nor romanticise sex, he simply gives a realistic account of what gay sex can be like. I often feel like sex (and romance in general) is not only exaggerated but also twisted and turned to make them somewhat ideal. Here, this is not the case. Furthermore, the one scene featuring sexual harassment was not too explicit and worked a lot with what was said. Yet, Ness makes several important points. First, not only women are sexually harassed. Second, often it is people in positions of power that come onto (younger) people who are inferior to them, afraid of losing their jobs/good grades/whatever if they do not comply. Third, most people do not believe it when men accuse others of sexually harassing them. Especially when the victim in question is homosexual, they are accused of having ‘asked for it’ and provoked the act. Thank you for including this section and hopefully raising an awareness for (male) victims of sexual harassment, Patrick Ness.
Nevertheless, a lot of the story focusses on the friendship between Adam and his best friend Angela as well as on the relationship between Adam and his family. I am an atheist and never understood how some people can believe in any religion, but I believe Ness did a good job portraying Adam’s family and their Christian beliefs resulting in their homophobia. I often wanted to scream at his family for being so stupid and I think if a novel evokes such a strong emotion in someone, it does something right.
Last but not least, the second narrative of the novel was great. A whole metaphor in its own right, it took a while for me to figure it out, but in the end, I feel like it added another layer to the overall story. Moreover, it helped to keep the story tense and thrilling. I am not a big fan of fairy tales, but the element worked well in this case. I do not want to spoil anything and believe everyone has to work out on their own what the interwoven narrative means to the story.
The next Ness novel is now waiting for me and I cannot wait to dive into it.