gemma malley

Book Review: The Returners

I have a vague recollection of reading this some time in the past which is kind of ironic considering the topic of the book itself. While I felt a repeated deja vu throughout this book, I can’t seem to remember when I actually would have read it before. I also couldn’t remember much of the main plot, which is pretty weird.

Anyway, the review.

It’s a good book. honestly, the opening paragraph of this review sums the book up quite well – it’s good, but not overly memorable. When you read it, you often think, “this is good” or “cool” or whatever, but a few months later you’ll forget all about it. At least, that’s how I felt.

Gemma Malley is an author I used to love when I was in my preteens, and I’m not sure if that’s why her books feel very adolescent to me, or if it’s because they actually are. Basically, I feel too old for them now. The protagonists are usually “cool” mid-teens, who the reader is supposed to look up to in some way. But I’m older than most characters and actually find their attitudes a bit pathetic and petty.

The story was good but I felt like there were a few loopholes, honestly. The idea of the “Returners” is interesting but not developed enough – who actually ‘controls’ them? Where did they come from? What is their real purpose? I felt like their purpose was a bit wishy-washy. Douglas’s refusal to change his attitude because it “isn’t their role” or whatever just sounded a bit… lame. Like a cop-out, I guess. I really would’ve liked to know more about the Returners and why they actually exist.

It’s only short and this may contribute to it feeling quite young, but it is well written and really enjoyable to read. Will is almost an anti-hero, and as the reader I both loved and hated him. His thoughts and attitudes were quite sporadic and it was sometimes hard to keep up, but that may have been the intention. I did like how we learned things at the same time as Will – we followed him through his own story. It was also really interesting how Will decided to handle the life he’d been forced into.

4 stars.

Book Review: The System

The System

The System (The Killables #3) by Gemma Malley – Paperback, 357 pages – Published April 10th 2014 by Hodder (first published December 5th 2013)

I finally got round to reading the conclusion to The Killables trilogy!

It’s been quite a long time since I read the first books, so I had forgotten some of the details. But as I read, I started to remember what had happened previously and was able to appreciate the current story.

After escaping the City, Evie, Raffy, Linus and Benjamin are now trapped in a world where everyone is being Watched. People actually made a living off of being Watched by strangers around t

The world, by having people see their daily lives and every thought. But Thomas, the leader of Infotec, isn’t satisfied; he still wants Linus to create the System he had originally thought of.

Frankie is one of the most Watched girls; her boyfriend, Milo, is high-up within Infotec and has really boosted her Watcher numbers. But an anonymous message encourages Frankie to write a blog post about the UK, and Milo suddenly turns pretty hostile. Suddenly Frankie is being thrown in the back of a van, her ID chip removed and given to some random doppelganger now claiming her identity. Frankie isn’t about to go down without a fight, though, and with the help of the anonymous messager, she escapes the Infotec enforcers.

There are a lot of switches between the POV this story is being told by, but after few chapters, the characters start to come together in one story.

A group of people are determined to tell the rest of the world about the UK – which was believed to have been destroyed by the Horrors. But Thomas is not going to let that happen easily – he’s more than happy to dispose of anyone threatening his company.

The future Malley has created is, in my opinion, quite plausible. Vlogs on YouTube are already super popular, and this isn’t that big a step up from that. And the System Thomas wants from Linus is probably not too far-fetched, either.

Frankie and Milo are probably the most important new characters in this book. Frankie was developed pretty well throughout the story, slowly discovering the truth and realising how she had been manipulated by Infotec. She’s not a big fan of Evie when they first meet, though, and I kind of thought Malley emphasised that more than was necessary. Milo also developed a bit, but with more of a sudden switch being flicked later in the book.

This was a good conclusion to the trilogy, and I enjoyed reading it. It maybe tries a bit too hard to be edgy, with swear words being thrown around and things like that. Still, I liked it. I felt a bit of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies coming through at times, but not enough that it felt samey or anything. 4 stars for the final Killables book.


Book Review: The Legacy


The Legacy by Gemma Malley (The Declaration #3) – Paperback, 288 pages – Published November 8th 2012 by Bloomsbury Children’s


When I first read Malley’s The Declaration series this third novel hasn’t yet been released. And then I kind of forgot about the series until the end of last year.

Anna and Peter have found a safe residence in the countryside thanks to the Underground, the resistance movement against the use of Longevity. But their safety is being compromised as some unknown “illness” is spreading through the Legals – killing people who are supposed to live forever. People are pointing the finger at everyone around them, fear spreading even quicker than the virus.

Jude and Sheila are living in the main Underground facility, but are forced to move base when their leader, Pip, hands himself in and a brick comes flying in through their window. Meanwhile, Peter’s ring is of high importance to Richard Pincent, who has arranged with some unknown Underground member for it to be sent to him.

Without Pip, Jude has to take over. But he wasn’t expecting his half-brother to arrive, especially without the rest of his family. And now Sheila’s disappeared…

Why are people dying? Are the Underground really to blame?

And then, when he didn’t think things could any worse, Jude sees Pip talking to Richard Pincent’s closest friend and guard, as if they were friends.

Is this really the end of the Underground? Have they finally lost?

I noticed a lot of typos and punctuation mistakes, which gave the book a bit of an unprofessional, juvenile feel. But I’ve always loved this series and honestly I found the book so easy to read and enjoyable, despite the mistakes. There are some really interesting twists, and the story focuses a lot on characters other than Anna an d Peter which is nice.

4 stars for this book.


Book Review: The Resistance


The Resistance by Gemma Malley (The Declaration #2) – Paperback, 323 pages – Published November 8th 2012 by Bloomsbury

I read this a few years ago, following the previous novel in the series. I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion to the trilogy, which I have never read!

Again, Anna and Peter are stuck in a world where youth is seen as a sin, as a danger. But Peter, while working for the Underground, has to work for his grandfather at Pincent Pharma – the manufacturers of Longevity. While there, he discovers some shocking information that makes a once straight-forward decision near impossible to make.

This book follows Anna as she cares for her infant brother and tries to help Maria, who is trying to rescue Surpluses. Peter is a massive character in this too, discovering the truth about Longevity and the company’s manufacturing methods. Even Jude, Peter’s half-brother, plays a hugely important role in this novel.

Unexpectedly, Sheila makes a surprise appearance during this book. She brings to light a very important situation within Pincent Pharma.

There are a few little subplots throughout this, and a lot of twists. This does make is exciting, but also makes it harder to see what the main plot is. And I have to say that it was often quite predictable (but that may just be because I read it a few years ago).

I don’t want to include any spoilers, but the events of this book seriously make me wonder how old Anna is. Like, seriously.

I am really looking forward to the next book, even if I am expecting yet more typos and unnecessary commas. This is an interesting series and I like it a lot. I think 3.5 stars for The Resistance.


Book Review: The Declaration


The Declaration by Gemma Malley (The Declaration #1) – Paperback, 295 pages – Published November 8th 2012 by Bloomsbury

I read the first two books in this trilogy when I was maybe twelve years old, and I was so excited about the third novel. But I never got round to reading it, so I have decided to read the whole trilogy now.

The novel is based in 2140, mainly in a “Surplus Hall” in England. After the invention of Longevity – and the ability to live forever – the population had to be controlled. This meant no more children. But of course, not everyone complied, resulting in “Surpluses” – illegal children who would be captured and trained to do the jobs the Legals refused to do.

Anna is one of these unfortunate children. She was found when she was just a toddler, and was doing well. She was a Prefect in Grange Hall, and was set to be a Valuable Asset. And she’s content with this, content with repaying her parents’ sins, until Peter arrives.

Peter is the oldest Surplus to arrive at the Hall. He had been in hiding for fifteen years, never discovered until he wanted to be. And the only reason he let them find him was to save Anna, to return her to her parents. The parents she had been taught to hate, who were responsible for creating an illegal child. At first, Anna refuses to listen to Peter’s words. But as she overhears Mrs Pincent’s plans for exterminating Peter, she realises that Grange Hall is not the place to be.

There are some fabulous underlying stories – such as Mrs Pincent’s issue with her beloved son – that make this a truly fantastic and thrilling read. It is maybe aimed at slightly younger teens – the protagonist is, after all, only fourteen – and does lack things such as strong language and such. But it is a really enjoyable novel, and I am super excited about the rest of the trilogy.

I am slightly disappointed with the romance aspect of the book. Peter and Anna seem to fall in love almost instantly, and it just feels so immature and childish to me. But I suppose I should wait and see what happens in the next books, hey?

I didn’t remember much about this, but I enjoyed it a lot the second time around. Four stars.


Book Review: The Disappearances


The Disappearances by Gemma Malley (The Killables #2) – Paperback, 414 pages – Published October 10th 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton

This is the sequel to Gemma Malley’s The Killables which I read recently. It consists of the same characters as before, such as Raffy, Linus, Lucas, Evie, the Brother, and also some extra characters. It, obviously, takes place after the System has been shut down – this having caused some issues, such as the Disappearances.

This is written in a rather different way to the previous book, in that it is told from different viewpoints and even during different time periods. The reader must piece together what is happening without it being explained to them, and how it’s relevant to the plot. We’re given insights to the start of the Horrors and the past lives of some of the characters.

I was honestly quite surprised with how dark this was quite early on; I was expecting the Disappearances to have a happy ending, not the pile of bodies that is actually given. Personally, this made it more thrilling and exciting, though.

The love triangle is slightly irritating, as all YA love triangles are. But I like that Raffy has his issues – anger and possessive issues, in fact, which is a very real problem for many people. And the backstories of the characters make them so much more real and lovable.

I think I prefer this to the previous novel, if only just a bit. I think 4 stars is a good rating for this.


Book Review: The Killables


The Killables by Gemma Malley (The Killables #1) – Paperback, 372 pages – Published October 1st 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton

I first discovered Gemma Malley thanks to my close friend several years ago. I remember loving her books and was so upset when the sequel to the book I’d read had not been released. I’m planning on reading that book soon…

So, the plot. Evie thinks she’s evil, doomed to be reconditioned. She has dreams that must be caused by her evilness, and even meets up secretly with her matched one’s brother.

The city Evie lives in is supposed to be safe, with no evil. But when her lover, Raffy, is destined to become a K, Evie knows something is wrong. His brother, Lucas, who once seemed so harsh and cold, is now the one helping Evie and Raffy escape. What if everything she had thought about him was wrong?

Beyond the city walls, Raffy and Evie meet Linus. He reveals the truth about the New Baptism, about the effects of the operation – how removing the amygdala does not only remove evil but humanity itself. They devise a plan to overcome the System as it is and return it to its original design.

I love the plot of this, and it’s fantastically written. It’s exciting and unexpected and really easy to read. But the love triangle… Why… Why does every YA book have one?! Why can’t Evie just be in love with one brother and leave it at that?! Meh.

I am soon to read the rest of this trilogy, and will be posting my reviews on those too. But I do really like Gemma Malley, and would certainly recommend reading some of her books.

As for this particular novel, I’m going to rate it 4 stars out of 5. Exciting and thrilling, but not perfect.