Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Returners - Gemma Malley

I was interested in reading this book purely because I loved Gemma Malley's dystopian series, The Declaration about what live could be like if we were dependent on drugs that made us live forever. It is such an interesting concept and was written so well that I felt sad when I finished the last book.
So, of course, I want more Gemma Malley, so this book appealed to me, so I grabbed it in the library the other day when I saw it.

Synopsis:  London teenager Will Hodge is miserable. His mother is dead, his father's political leanings have grown radical, and his friends barely talk to him. To top it off, he's having nightmares about things like concentration camps. Then Will notices he's being followed by a group of people who claim to know him from another time in historyIt turns out they are Returners, reincarnated people who carry with them the memory of atrocities they have witnessed in the past. Will realizes that he, too, is a Returner. But something about his memories is different, and with dawning horror, Will suspects that he wasn't just a witness to the events, he was instrumental in making them happen. Set in the near future, with the world on the verge of a new wave of ethnic cleansing, Will must choose to confront the cruelty he's known in his past lives, or be doomed to repeat it.

Review: The whole idea of what the Returners are is interesting first of all and something that could be quite viable in reality, especially if they are unknown to anyone that isn't one themselves. After reading this book, I liked the idea of them, but I still don't understand the reason for them. Will constantly asks their purpose overall for history but they are always so vague and mysterious. They can never stop the suffering that happens, just live through it as an experience, which I understand so the suffering of those lives on but why have the Returners continuously?
This book is also a political novel and tackles a lot of the social issues that have arisen in England since the recession. Does wealth overall everything fundamentally? Should those that are not English citizens actually be living here? What would happen if an extremist party did get into the government? All these questions are tackled and more and I know that any English person at least would relate to this novel and help understand these topics. There are some racy and taboo like comments said that make you blush throughout but this is all seen as a bad thing, which is the general opinion at the moment.

The book is set in 2016, and nothing really has changed to now. Really, for the political side to the novel, it is showing what effect the recession has just under ten years on. All the things that happen to people in money troubles, happen to Will and it is quite hard hitting for him and the reader with the lengthy descriptions of the fights his parents had before his mother killed herself, both violent and just shouting. This is a book I would say is definitely just for people in their late teens from about 14.

Will was an average character, he was really just a typical boy. I found him neither interesting nor annoying. Although, I found his constant admiration for Clare rather irritating and felt like shouting 'We know you like her!' The characters of the Returners that you met start off rather creepy and scary and I didn't blame Will not wanting to join them. However, they open up and we see the life of a Returner through the grandfather-like Douglas and teenage Emily. Now, I liked Douglas although he was way too philosophical at times. But Emily. To start, she seemed to have hinted to have had a relationship with Will's past self. But nothing ever came out, I have no idea if it was true or not, although I doubt there was something. 
I liked the way it was written. There was never a point where the action and tension dipped, you always want to know who, what, why, how. Although the continuous use of short sentences could be annoying, I liked it. It  made it much more interesting and different to read to me. 

I liked also how Gemma Malley hasn't given everything away at the beginning and made it so what you think will happen halfway through takes a completely different direction by the end. It's definitely not a book to read to relax and feel good about yourself but it is worth a read for those that like dystopian fiction. 
It's not as good and well-rounded as her previous trilogy but for those that are new to Gemma Malley or new to the dystopian genre, it's a good read and enjoyable despite the number of spelling mistakes I found while reading (hewas, just to name a few), one slight pet hate of mine and I'm sure others.

This is a worth while read for those that haven't heard of Gemma Malley before or are new to the dystopian genre but I would read this and then continue straight on to The Declaration series. The idea is a good and rather puzzling interesting one, I'm just not sure if it was executed in the right way yet.
Verdict: Worth a look but not as good as The Declaration by far. However, Gemma Malley does give some interesting things to think about which I think shall stay with me for a while now. I shall leave you with one of them:

'"But nothing Douglas. Everyone has a choice. Everyone. All the time. You can walk through a door or decide not to. You can let your past dictate your future or you can throw two fingers up at it and walk away."'

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 257
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: BBC

Check out my review on Gemma Malley's first book from the amazing The Declaration series:


  1. Love all things dystopian so going to have to pick this up!

    Come check out Sash and Em!
    We've got some AWESOME giveaways going on too!

  2. Yes, definitely do check it out.


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