Author: Gemma Malley
Publication Date: March 2010
Tags: good and evil, life and death, reincarnation, history, prejudice, racism
Pages: approx 320
Book Acquisition: received an ARC from the publisher for review
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
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 history. It 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 . . . again.
I have to say, this book wasn't what I thought it would be. That happens sometimes, but in this case, it wasn't a bad thing at all. I was expecting a light paranormal story with maybe a few twists and turns. What I got was so much deeper and richer.
Honestly, a few parts of the story were difficult for me to read. They were raw and truthful and a bit upsetting. They were exactly what they should be and I didn't begrudge the story for making me uncomfortable because it worked.
For me, The Returners was more of a political / social commentary book then it was a paranormal tale. The issues brought up were pretty much right in your face - in a good way. I wasn't sure how Malley was going to end this story, and I wasn't sure I was going to be happy with it. I was happy though because by the end of the book I was left with a feeling of hope.
I have another book by Malley sitting on my shelf - The Declaration. It's the first in a trilogy and after reading The Returners, I'm very much looking forward to getting started on it.
I would recommend this book to fans of paranormal YA books who are looking for a deeper and more powerful story.