TITLE: THE RETURNERS
AUTHOR: GEMMA MALLEY
Details: Young Adult
Why is it that dark young adult books hit me harder than dark adult books.
With the amount of thrillers I read you'd think I'm well used to dark and grim stories. But reading this book was a very unsettling experience for me. And that makes me wonder. Is it because the book is darker, or is it because we're talking about a teenager having to come to terms with and overcome the darkness in question?
Another thing I'm wondering about is, if this book leaves me feeling this disconcerted, how does it affect the teenagers who read it? Does it leave them with questions, like it does me, or do they take it in their stride, like I do when I'm reading my adult thrillers?
I really hope nobody is waiting for me to answer these questions right now, because as it is, I just don't know the answers.
This book tells the story of Will, a fifteen year old boy with a troubled life. His mother died through drowning when he was eight and his father is an angry man involved in nationalistic and fascist politics. He suffers from lapses in his memories and horrible nightmares and is being followed around by people he feels he should know but somehow doesn't.
All of that however, is only the start of it. Once he figures out what his nightmares, which aren't really nightmares, really mean and who the people following him are his life gets a lot more complicated, violent and scary again. It is up to Will to decide how he's going to deal with this new knowledge, provided of course that he really is free to make that decision.
This is a book about dealing with the past, facing the present, and deciding whether or not you're going to create your own future or allow other forces to do that for you. It is a story with a very powerful message, but it does use very dark images to get that message across. Messages so dark, in fact, that at times I was tempted to put the book aside, even though this is a very well written book.
I think this would have been an easier book to read if it had been set in a fictional world. But because it's set in the near future in a world that's all to real and recognizable the darkness got a bit too realistic for this reader.