Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Review: Release, by Patrick Ness

ReleaseRelease by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found the voice of RELEASE, by Patrick Ness, immediately captivating while the story centered on Adam, but found myself at first a bit confused with the secondary storyline, although I quickly understood these two seemingly separate storylines would eventually entwine and cross paths with one another. This structure frames the story well, loosely based on, and giving literary nods to FOREVER by Judy Blume, and MRS. DALLOWAY, by Virginia Woolf. Of course, more contemporary YA works such as THE SERPENT KING, by Jeff Zentner, also come to mind among the triune circle of friends: Ness's Adam, Linus, and Angela characters.
At the heart of Release is Adam Thorn, a young man on the brink of transition between boyhood and manhood. But equally important is the internal journey he takes to identify and embrace, as fully as he knows how, his true self. Adam's true self might be as easy to discover for him as buying a single rose, unsure of his intended recipient. But as Adam wrestles with the facets that make up himself, those which are "good" or "acceptable" to the world, or to his overbearing religiously rigid family, and the other parts of himself, which seem to be "bad" or "unacceptable," parts he has kept from the public eye for fear of the consequences which have imprisoned him much of his life.
The entire story takes place within the confines of one day, and is complicated by a variety of surprises, both alarming and lovely, threats painful and stifling, and the question of how both story threads will inevitably meet. What makes this a pleasure to read, though, is the journey, the discovery, and the risk of living one's truth. Bravo to Ness and to Adam. May we all learn to risk everything for the right reasons, rather than the wrong ones. Highly, Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Review: They Both Die At the End, by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the EndThey Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This scything, searing read tore at me from the first page, and for me, hit all the high notes in character, plot, pacing, voice, and surprises and touches that thrum long after swiping left on blast to the very last page. Silvera is at his best in his third YA novel, having read and loved both of his first books as well. I'm not ashamed to be a hardcore fanboy. He's definitely on my list of auto-read authors.
I loved the nuanced way Silvera wove life after life together in the primarily dual POV structure, with layers of other characters that may surprise you time and again. Each beat is pointed, deliberate, and a testament to the life of each of his characters, the way dancers leave it all on the floor of the club when they dance among their tribe.
My takeaway is clear: what if we lived our lives to the fullest, as if today were our last? What if we dared to be our authentic self, holding nothing back, regretting nothing, yet if we had regrets, finding the best way to make it right? How true. What a risk. And what an important message. The fact that I know Adam pours his own heart and soul out here on every page, making himself vulnerable for his readers, and did all the hard work to take us there, makes it even more a brave, glorious song, perhaps sung a bit off key, but real, authentic, and chock full of humanity.
I loved the many tender moments I found myself choked up, teary-eyed, not giving a shit that others might laugh at me since I might as well be at Make-A-Moment; after all, I'm just reading a book, right?
Mateo and Rufus leapt off the page, soared on the back pegs of a bike rushing full boar into their final day. What a day. What a life. What a powerful read. I'm still reeling from the aftermath. Damnit, Silvera: you made me mad cry. I will find you, and I will punch you. Looking forward to your next book, and the next.
P.S. The traveler game is my new fave. Love all the social media treats, too.

View all my reviews