The Returned by Jason Mott

Posted on 04/15/2014 in Book Review / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Returned by Jason MottThe Returned by Jason Mott
Series: The Returned #1
Published by Harlequin, MIRA on 8/27/2013
Genres: Adult
Pages: 254
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
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"Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were."\r\n\r\nHarold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds healed through the grace of time.... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep--flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.\r\n\r\nAll over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargraves find themselves at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.\r\n\r\nWith spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

The dead are returning. But not in the traditional zombie-who–wants-to-eat-your-flesh kind of way; these undead are showing up whole and healthy in random places, sometimes thousands of miles away from where they lived. Most of them just want to get home to their loved ones, but not everyone finds their return to be miraculous. The Returned by Jason Mott focuses on a family in the small town of Arcadia, North Carolina, whose 8-year-old son has returned after a tragic drowning in 1966. More and more of the returned begin to show up, and when the government decides to begin quarantining them in Arcadia, this sleepy town is completely transformed. We get some small glimpses into others who have returned around the globe (three of which have been turned into short stories), and hear snippets about what is going on with the epidemic in other parts of the country and world, but most of the action takes place in Arcadia. The story does not deal with how or why the dead are returning; instead it’s more of a story of how the living respond to what has happened. There are some who feel it’s a miracle, others who just want to avoid reopening old wounds, and those who are angry and feel like the returned don’t deserve any rights – basically it brings out the best or the worst in people.  As a mom, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child, much less how it would feel to get that child back, unchanged, almost 50 years later.  And as someone who has lost her father, I can also imagine how precious getting a second chance with your parent would be. But on the other hand, what ARE these returned? And what if the undead began to outnumber the “true living”? What happens then?  Where do they go, and how do they just jump back into a world that has moved on without them? This book did make me think about a lot of things, but I read most of it with a sense of dread, feeling anxious about what was going to become of the characters as things became more turbulent. In the end, there was not a satisfying conclusion, and my questions were not answered. I was simply left to think about it, which is probably exactly what the author intended.  But the more I thought about it, the more questions I had, which just left me frustrated. I think I prefer the undead as zombies, because, let’s face it – we all know exactly how to handle those! Right after I finished the book, I watched the first 3 episodes of Resurrection, the new TV show inspired by the book. I say “inspired by” because almost every aspect seemed to be changed – the location (now in Missouri instead of NC), the situations were different, several characters had been added or changed, and even the last name of the main family was different. I understand that some changes have to be made in order to translate books into TV shows or movies, but it’s a major pet peeve of mine when they are completely altered. I spent most of the first episode yelling at the TV “No! It didn’t  happen that way!”. That episode was so slow-moving that I almost didn’t continue. However, I made it through the third episode, adjusted to the changes, and the pace was finally picking up. I am curious to see where they’ll go with the show (and if it will provide more answers than the book), but I’m not sure that I was enthralled enough with the plot or the characters to stick with it, especially considering that my DVR is already busting at the seams.

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Jessica’s addiction to books began at age 4, going on weekly trips to the library with her mom. After being a young fan of Sweet Valley High and The Baby-Sitters Club, she discovered the thrill of reading a book that made her want to leave the light on and check under the bed. Her all-time favorite author is Stephen King, but she will read just about anything! Jessica never leaves home without her e-reader, and considers it the best gift she ever received. Her other hobbies include running and going to Disney World as often as possible.

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