Review: Burn by Patrick Ness

burnOn a cold Sunday evening in 1957, Sarah Dewhurst and her father wait in the parking lot of the Chevron Gas Station for the dragon Gareth hired to help on the farm. Their encounter with Kazimir — a rare, enigmatic blue dragon — ignites a world-ending chain of events they have no hope of aborting; for this is their destiny. This is fate.

Blending the epic with the intimate, Patrick Ness has crafted a novel of exquisite escapism. He weaves new religions, histories and conflicts into an action-packed, character-focused romp, teeming with rogue FBI agents, a cruel xenophobic deputy sheriff, dragons (of course) and a teenage assassin; and that’s only the start of its stunningly diverse cast.

Burn has the propulsion of a thriller — its two grand action scenes are masterpieces of excitement and stomach-clenching tension — and the earnestness of the very best tales of young romance. Ness is a brilliantly nimble writer, able to flick between blockbuster moments and personal with peerless grace. It’s the stuff of literary magic.

ISBN: 9781406375503
Number Of Pages: 384
Available: 7th May 2020
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

Review: Release by Patrick Ness

release-patrick-nessRelease is about that terrifying and exhilarating process of piecing together who you are during the most tumultuous period of your life, when your entire identity is in a constant state of flux. Our teenage years are spent searching for authenticity: exploring new relationships and trying new identities in order to determine who we are, or at the very least, who we want to be, and accepting it.

Over the course of a single day, seventeen-year-old Adam Thorn’s life completely unravels — revelation after revelation pummelling him, threatening to crash-land him into pieces, changing everything — but it’s one of those days that’s necessary for him to become, and accept, who he is; one of those days he’ll look back on and appreciate for its defining moments.  Release is about a revolutionary day in a young man’s life, told with Patrick Ness’s trademark warmth and good humour, and of course, a touch of the supernatural in the form of a ghost who has risen from the lake…

Adam lives in a very religious and strict small-town American home. Living in his brother’s shadow, forced to keep his boyfriend a secret from his pastor father, Adam’s singular outlet is his best friend; the only person who knows how truly messed up he is over the ending of his previous relationship, and the horribleness of his boss at the job he works part-time. Adam’s caught in a hurricane of adolescent emotion, on the precipice of making decisions that will possibly define him, and Ness details this with heart-aching, bring-tears-to-your-eyes honesty.

The supernatural element — the ghost — adds an interesting layer to the tale, but possibly one I could have done without. It neither augments, nor detracts from the book; it just doesn’t seem necessary. The strength of Release is its protagonist, who is unforgettable, and will resonate with readers for a long time.

ISBN: 9781406331172
Format: Hardback (216mm x 135mm x mm)
Imprint: Walker Books Ltd
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Publish Date: 4-May-2017
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Rest of Us Just Live Here - coverMy love of reading stemmed from a love of superhero comics, specifically Superman. Oddly enough, as a kid I never really dreamed of being The Man of Steel – trying to be more like Clark Kent always seemed a more realistic aspiration, and I reckon I’ve nailed the whole ‘mild mannered’ part of his shtick – but I often imagined what it must be like to live in Metropolis, amidst all the craziness that ensues in a world of super-heroics. What would it be like living on the periphery, never actively involved, bearing witness to epic encounters? As a citizen of Metropolis, would you be looked down upon if you wanted to be less like Jimmy Olsen – Superman’s best pal, always in the thick of the action – and more like John Smith, the everyman who’ll happily settle for a quiet family life?

Mikey, whose mind we inherit in the latest Young Adult novel from superstar author Patrick Ness, lives in a world that has been touched by zombies, soul-eating ghosts, and basically every menace that has punctuated the YA genre in recent years. Mikey’s never been involved in these encounters – he’s just lived his life and dealt with obligatory teenage angst that accompanies the end of high school. And sure, there’s a touch of the fantastical about his best friend, who possess God-like powers because, well, he’s part-God – but really, Mikey and his friends are just your average teens. Which is precisely what makes THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE so great.

Against the backdrop of an epic conflict between beings known as the Immortals and some ‘indie’ kids at school – intentionally derivative of the stories we’ve all read before, and concisely annotated in chapter headings – Ness’s novel focuses on the issues afflicting Mikey and his gang of pals in the lead-up to prom and the beginning of their college lives. There’s Henna, the girl he has been crushing on for years, but is now potentially eternally ‘friend-zoned;’ his alcoholic father; his mother’s run for the senate; not to mention the consequences of having a best friend with unbelievable abilities, who is hiding an even bigger secret. Despite all the wackiness, these feel like real people existing in a world with similarities to our own, just embellished with elements of the supernatural.

This is a heartening novel about friendship. These characters might not be the ‘chosen ones’ – they’re not the traditional heroes we associate with YA fiction – but they’re heroes in their own right, kids who’ve overcome life’s many obstacles, which we’ve all faced, who are now preparing for the next step on their journey. Written with Ness’s trademark wit and efficacy, THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE shows we’re all heroes. But not all of us get the limelight – and not all of us want it!

4 Stars Excellent

ISBN: 9781406331165
Format: Hardback
Pages: 352
Imprint: Walker Books Ltd
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Publish Date: 27-Aug-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom