“Adam would have to get the flowers himself.”First line in Release by Patrick Ness
I have counted Patrick Ness among my favorite authors for quite a few years now since I first dove into his Chaos Walking trilogy. Ness has been writing novels, and even a few screenplays, since 2003, and is mainly known for his Young Adult works. His books have earned him several awards, including two Carnegie Medals.
So what is it that he does so well? If you ask me, it’s a lot of things, of course, but mostly the very emotional way he writes his characters. He will transport the reader into the mind of the character and will not only make you see their reasonings and motivations but will make you understand them as well. Even when the character isn’t necessarily the “good guy”. But this is especially important as a few of his books feature a protagonist with mental health issues. He’s often showing the how and the why behind these struggles.
What you also need to know about Ness is that he creates some very unique and original stories. You won’t find the most generic tropes in his books, and if you do, it’s only because he’s decided to take a creative spin on it like in “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” where we follow a group of ordinary teenagers who are living their lives around the ‘Chosen Ones’.
This brings me to the topic of how most of his books can be said to be contemporaries or at least give off a contemporary feel, but they all have a sci-fi or fantasy twist to them. To me, that is part of why his books feel so unique. His imagination and how he uses these twists are what keep me guessing all the way through.
Finally, we have his writing, which really is what makes him one of the absolute best YA authors out there. It is both beautiful without being purple prose and smart in the way that it allows the readers to think for themselves. In other words, it’s simple and to the point. His writing is also why I think many of his books will work for readers who primarily read adult books and wants to try out some YA. Patrick Ness is a great choice to start with.
Below I have a list of all of his works with links to Goodreads in case you’re interested in a synopsis. After that, I’m going to try and recommend which book to start with if you’re completely new to the author.
The Crash of Hennington (2003) – Adult
Topics I Know Nothing About (2004) – Short Story Collection
The Chaos Walking Trilogy (2008-2010) – Young Adult
– The Knife of Never Letting Go
– The Ask and the Answer
– Monsters of Men
A Monster Calls (2011) – Young Adult
The Crane Wife (2013) – Adult
More Than This (2013) – Young Adult
The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015) – Young Adult
Release (2017) – Young Adult
And the Ocean Was Our Sky (2018) – Young Adult/Graphic Novel
Burn (2020) – Young Adult
Where to Start Reading Patrick Ness
Before I start recommending books to start with, I will highlight that I haven’t read his adult books or the graphic novel, so I naturally won’t be recommending those. This will only focus on his YA novels.
Which book of his fits best for you is, of course, very much down to personal preference. I wouldn’t say that there is a wrong place to start so if you’ve found a synopsis you think sounds extremely cool, then I would say just go for it. If you on the other hand is completely lost, here are some recommendations based on your reading tastes:
You like SFF:
🥇 Chaos Walking trilogy – An entire village of only men that can hear each other’s thoughts. Every. Single. Thought. The Mayor keeps secrets and a girl shows up.
🥈 Burn – Dragons that co-exist with humans in a 1950’s Washington to the extent that they have a cult-following. Prejudice still exists, and a prophecy might destroy everything.
You like contemporaries:
🥇 The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Those Chosen Ones can really mess up other people’s lives with their chosen-one-ness. A guy just wants to finish high school and deal with his OCD.
🥈 Release – A book that shows you just how many problems you can have in a single day. A boy from a religious family deals with being gay and life in general, and there is a ghost.
You like something sad:
🥇 A Monster Calls – Prepare yourself for an ugly-cry. A monster shows up at a boy’s window to teach us all how to deal with life when a loved one suffers from a long-term illness.
You like something uplifting:
🥇 Release – A book that shows you just how many problems you can have in a single day, but also how to overcome them. A boy from a religious family deals with being gay and life in general, and there is a ghost.
🥈 The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Those Chosen Ones can really mess up other people’s lives with their chosen-one-ness. A guy just wants to finish high school and deal with his OCD.
You like something weird:
🥇 More Than This – A boy wakes up and has no idea what’s going on and neither should you when starting the book.
🥈 Chaos Walking trilogy – An entire village of only men that can hear each other’s thoughts. Every. Single. Thought. The Mayor keeps secrets and a girl shows up.
In case I haven’t made it clear, I love Patrick Ness and his amazing YA stories. This was a post that hopefully managed to help you figure out if he’s also an author for you. Let me know what you think in the comments.