Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Review: The Returners by Gemma Malley
Released: February 1st, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-
Will Hodges' life is a mess. His mother is dead, he has no friends and he thinks he is being followed by a strange group of people who tell him they know him. But Will can't remember them ...at first. And when he does, he doesn't like what he can remember. While Will is struggling with unsettling memories, he learns that his past is a lot deeper than many people's, and he has to find out if he is strong enough to break links with the powerful hold that history has on him.
The Returners has now put Gemma Malley in my list of favourite UK authors. The premise is original, unusual and utterly fantastic, and her writing is compelling to say the least. She's a force to be reckoned with, and her previous books The Declaration and The Resistance are proof enough of that.
The Returners confronts issues relevant to today's society, even though the story is set in an alternate future, in the year 2016. Everything from race to politics is tackled head-on, with no apologies or sugarcoating. 2016 is a hard time to be a foreigner; they're seen as outcasts and aren't welcomed or wanted. Political parties are doing their best to turn Britain back into a purist country, and are facing more opposition as people start to stand up for what's right. It's a topic that is hotly debated these days, and it's good that Malley has picked such a contemporary subject to address.
This book is in no way predictable, and kept me guessing until the last chapter. We figure things out as Will figures them out, and experience shock and confusion at the same time he does. Little hints are given, and it's almost like piecing a giant puzzle together, using excerpts from historical events and a crime committed in the present. I won't give anything away here, as the beauty of the story is what's waiting to be revealed around the corner.
Malley stands out on the shelves of UK teen fiction, with a believable voice and a strong grasp on the teenage mind. Her books continue to surprise me, and her standard of writing seems to improve with every new offering. As a stand-alone novel, The Returners is worthy of a place in everyone's collection, and I for one can't wait to see where her imagination takes her next.