Release by Patrick Ness (review)
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Reviewed by
Ness, Patrick Release. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2017 [288p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-240319-3 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-240321-6 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 10-12

Adam Thorn suspects his parents know he’s gay, but his father is an evangelical minister, so Adam figures it’s better to keep up the heterosexual pretense than get sent to a pray-the-gay-away camp. Today he’s facing the going-away party for Enzo, the ex-boyfriend who broke his heart, and after having tender, erotically described sex with his new boyfriend, he is emboldened to be honest with his dad and he realizes he needs to let Enzo go. He has also, unbeknownst to him, roused a queenly spirit who has been taken over by the form of a recently murdered girl, and if she and the Queen cannot become disentangled by nightfall, the world may end. The thematic threads that connect these supposedly parallel plots are as wispy as cobwebs; the Queen is an ambiguous figure with no provenance, while Adam’s release from the things tying him in emotional knots, including the fear that he is unlovable, is at once more complicated and less dramatic. The urgency of doing it all in one day is thus built on an imposed and confusing contrivance; fortunately, the ghost plot can be safely ignored as tangential to Adam’s story, which has enough interest to stand on its own.

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