Happy Saturday, lovely bookworms!
Although I haven’t been blogging much, I have been reading quite a bit whenever and wherever I can (I definitely finished at least one of these books in my car before work) so bear with me while I try and power through the review equivalent of Mt Everest! What have you guys been rating recently? Let me know all in the comments. 🙂
Release by Patrick Ness
Inspired by Judy Blume’s Forever and Mrs Dalloway (neither of which I’ve read,
oops), Release is Ness’ most personal novel yet, and it shows.
The reader follows 17-year-old Adam through one tumultuous day in his life, which starts out as frustrating and gets progressively more difficult it progresses. With family tensions on the rise, his emotions scattered and his best friend leaving him, amongst plenty of other rubbish things, Adam must find hope.
It’s no secret that I adore Patrick Ness’ work (I mean, who doesn’t?!) and Release boasts all of his trademark style. It’s witty, it’s funny, it’s poignant, it’s sad and it’s hopeful all at once. I connected with Adam straight away, and really felt for him as he faces up to everything going on in his life over the course of twenty-four seriously emotional hours.
There’s so much great YA out there that tackles sex and relationships head-on, but so little of it concerns queer relationships, so it was awesome to read from the perspective of an openly gay character. There are no ‘fade to black’ scenes in Release, and Adam’s sexuality, sex life and relationships are handled in a really frank and touching way. t’s so important for
young people everyone to be able to see themselves represented in all aspects of books, and Release ticks that box in a big, bold, brilliant way.
While I loved the basis of the story and was really invested in Adam’s journey, there is a magical realism element to this book that I wasn’t expecting. Every other chapter follows the story of a queen and a faun, which I worked out had something to do with meth addiction in the town (I think?!). While I’ll never have a bad thing to say about the quality of Ness’ writing, the magical realism elements didn’t work in the context of this book because I couldn’t work out what, if anything, they had to do with Adam’s story. The secondary story didn’t overlap very much with the main plot, so after a few chapters I decided to skip them and my reading experience was vastly improved because of that decision! If you’re a big fan of magical realism but haven’t read much of Ness’ work – this will definitely be one for you.
Overall, as with pretty much all of Patrick Ness’ work, this is an important book which has a lot to say for itself. Release never treats the characters or the readers like children, but still manages to have a huge amount of empathy for what it is like to be young. Through one day in Adam’s life, we get to live as a teenager all over again in all of its painful, dramatic, joyous, hilarious glory. It’s wonderful.
- Publisher: Walker Books
- Pages: 287
Undone by Cat Clarke
Undone is one of those books that I picked up on a Kindle deal on a quiet Saturday afternoon and didn’t expect much. I like contemporary YA, but it takes something pretty special for me to finish one in a single sitting.
Undone follows Jem Halliday, who is utterly smitten with her best friend, Kai. There’s only one problem: Kai is gay. Jem is learning to live with the fact that her perfect guy will never be hers, but then the unthinkable happens. Kai is outed online in the worst way possible, and as a result he kills himself. Hurting like she’s never hurt before, Jem sets out on a searing journey of revenge, betrayal and maybe, just maybe; healing.
This book hooked me right from the first page and as I emerged from my little reading cocoon roughly six hours later, I felt a little like Jem: battered, bruised and emotionally shredded. The cover says ‘revenge will tear you apart’ but forget the revenge, this book will do the tearing apart for you.
I’ve not ready of Cat Clarke’s other novels, but like Louise O’Neill, Sara Barnard and Holly Bourne, she seems to have a talent for writing young people exactly as they are; faults, drama, quirks and all. The dialogue is a snappy and realistic, and the plot keeps turning the tension up it’s all you can do not to bounce on the sofa screaming ‘DON’T DO IT. DO NOT DO THAT.’ The characters are fully formed and human, and I found it impossible not to fall in love with Kai, Jem and eventually, even Lucas.
This is not a shy book. It really doesn’t cower from big truths, ugly lies and the horrible things that teenagers can do and say to each other when they’re hurting. Sexuality, relationships, female friendship, suicide and bullying are all fair game here, and they’re all dealt with pretty well. Undone tackles a lot; taking you on a roller coaster ride of despair, shame, rage, grief and love and it doesn’t let you go until the monumental cliffhanger on the last page. I got off this particular roller coaster feeling slightly green and a little bit hollow, but exhilarated. An author I’ll certainly be keeping a beady eye on from now on in.
- Publisher: Quercus
- Pages: 352