My Catchphrases

Monday, 7 February 2011

MG Monday: Review: The Returners by Gemma Malley

Title: The Returners
Author: Gemma Malley
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 1 Feb 2010

Source: Library

Synopsis: From Amazon
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 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. This compelling novel, set in an alternate future, challenges readers to consider the role we all have to play in making our society, and asks how much we are prepared to stand up for what's right.

I will admit straight off that I did not finish this book and I found it a real struggle to read. Not that it isn’t a great book; it just was too far out of my comfort zone.

Written in first person narrative from Will’s perspective. He is very relatable in an uncomfortable way, following his mothers suicide he has ‘episodes’ or ‘visions’ but these ‘visions’ are all of atrocities some from the past others from a future that is yet to be determined. As you can imagine this does make Will a very misanthropic boy.

It is beautifully written even if there are shocking revelations woven into the ordinary. I think this makes the details more powerful in the imagination. The prose contains wonderfully following analogues amongst topical political and economic references. The brutal portrayal of intolerance really hit the point home.

By mixing historical events with the present, allowing the unfortunate parallels between the two to become glaringly obvious. How easy it is to forget the past and make the same mistakes again. The hatred fuelled society and its propaganda is the basis of some of the world’s greatest evil – just think Auschwitz and Rwanda. Due to ineffective governments how easy it is to slip into the mind set of blaming people of a different culture for our problems such as unemployment.

I really felt for Will, I can’t go into details of the full reason behind this without giving away spoilers. Let’s just say that his father has drink and anger management problems along with being a member of a BNP.

As I regularly say – reading is subjective – and I feel that due to my own current financial situation (unemployment) this book was just far too depressing for me. I read to escape not be confronted by events all to close to what I am currently experiencing. This does not distract from its value. I do think this book would be beneficial to the History department as they are currently studying The Second World War and I will be recommending it as such.


  1. A good honest review. I can completely understand how it would not appeal to you at the present time.
    I have two dystopian ones by Gemma Malley I hope to read soon.

  2. This one sounds like it'd be very interesting but also like one that would be very difficult to read :( I'm sorry that it was so hard for you!

  3. I totally feel like I have missed out on something. You've lost your job? Or is it more of a family situation? Last thing I knew you were loving being a school librarian. I completely understand your thoughts on this. It was incredibly dark but I so wish you'd got to the end. The light was coming. Promise.


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