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August 27, 2013 / Leslie

Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

The Returned by Jason MottThe Returned
by Jason Mott

Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publish Date: August 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover | 352 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

In this mystical tale people around the world begin to return from the dead. They just appear one day, not necessarily where they died or where they lived, searching for their home or loved ones. No one is sure what they are or why they have come back. Even “The Returned” don’t know. At first the government is accommodating and attempts to reunite them with their families, but after a while the situation begins to get intense as more and more people “return”. Where will they live and can the planet sustain an unlimited number of people?

Although I very much enjoyed the book, I was a tiny bit disappointed it wasn’t the work of speculative fiction I was expecting. I would have enjoyed a deeper explanation or at least more insight into The Returned, but that was not the author’s intention. That part is left up to us. Also, this is not a science fiction story, the people are not turned into zombies or monsters. Instead, it was an emotional story about life, relationships, and what was or what could have been. There is an almost spiritual journey here.

The main focus of the novel is on Harold and Lucille Hargrave, their ‘returned’ son and Agent Bellamy, the local government liaison from the Bureau of the The Returned. The writing style was simple, yet graceful. Following each chapter is a two or three page essay written from the point of view of one of the Returned. These brief stories provide an interesting glimpse into the life of the individual; some are part of the greater story, some are not. And while these stories answered some questions, I was left with many more.

This is not a happy or feel good tale. It’s one that makes you think. While it’s not terribly sad, the story is very emotional. You can’t read this book and not think about someone you have lost that you would like to see again, even if it were only for a few days. At the end of the novel, in the Author’s Notes, the author explains his motivation for writing the book. Now I understand.

Source: Review copy.
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Elizabeth / Aug 27 2013 2:02 pm

    Nice review.

    I read it also. Put my review on Amazon today. My review for the TLC Tour is up on September 25.

    It is a book that will make you think, but it is eerie. 🙂

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog


  2. Shannon @ River City Reading / Aug 27 2013 5:37 pm

    It sounds like we had the same major obstacle with this one, I was really hoping to find out more about The Returned and the Bureau. I really enjoyed the author’s note, too…part of me thinks it was my favorite part of the book.


  3. Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) / Aug 27 2013 6:23 pm

    Not sure this is my cup of tea, but it does sound emotional and thought-provoking. Great review!


  4. Suko / Aug 27 2013 8:12 pm

    Excellent review! It sounds quite thought-provoking.


  5. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Aug 27 2013 8:43 pm

    I do like the sound of this — thanks for reviewing it.


  6. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader / Aug 28 2013 6:34 pm

    This one made me think and think and think so more 🙂


  7. stacybuckeye / Sep 2 2013 12:27 am

    This doesn’t really sound like my thing, but I do like different and you are convincing!


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