3 stars · fiction

The Returned by Jason Mott

 The Returned

author : jason mott

pages : [hardcover] 352

memorable quote : People and events of wonder and magic are the lifeblood of the world.

favorite characters : harold & agent bellemy

summary :

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.

Harold 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 tempered 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.

All 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 Hargrave family finds itself 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.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet 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.

review :

I found the premise of this book so fascinating I just had to read it! The Returned is filled with people coming back from the dead and returning to their loved ones . . as anything but the zombies that people are used to reading about today. These Returned look as they did when they died, they think the way they did, and they seem to have all of their memories. They definitely aren’t trying to bite people and turn them into more of the legions of the undead. But there are a lot of them and they come with no explanation. The big mystery of the book, then, is if these people are really people and if they’re the people they appear to be.

I think that almost everyone has to have had someone close to them die. After such a tragedy, maybe you’d wonder what things would be like if that person could come back. Maybe not permanently; maybe for just one day. This idea is heavily explored in the relationship between Harold and Lucille as their 8 year old son, Jacob, comes back from the grave. The two have been forced to move on with their lives without him and now they’ve grown old. Are they supposed to treat Jacob as a miracle or something to be feared?

The Returned focuses more on the familial dynamic and the emotional turmoil that could potentially come out of a time like this. While occasionally there were briefs snatches of how this was being handled in other countries, I think I’d have liked to have seen more of what was happening outside. I did really love the personal accounts of the Returned that were interspersed between the chapters. It brought everything down to a heartfelt level where I felt like there were so many tragic things happening and so many wonderful reunions that my emotions didn’t know what to do.

I’d recommend this book for people who are looking for an interesting piece of fiction. This book is good but not entirely satisfying. Because it focuses almost entirely on one family and does well with the emotional aspect of the story, some pieces of the larger picture are never covered and things tend to take a slower pace. This novel was certainly not what I expected and yet I still think it was a worthwhile read!

3/5 stars


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