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The Returned

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

Most of us have felt the incredible pain of loss. Wishing, dream

Most of us have felt the incredible pain of loss. Wishing, dreaming, begging for just one more day, hour or minute with our loved one. Mott poses such a scenario in The Returned. Would such a reunion soothe our pain? Assuage our guilt? Curb our loneliness? Or would we j...
Most of us have felt the incredible pain of loss. Wishing, dreaming, begging for just one more day, hour or minute with our loved one. Mott poses such a scenario in The Returned. Would such a reunion soothe our pain? Assuage our guilt? Curb our loneliness? Or would we just like to keep it all in the past, carefully covered up?

So, one day people start coming back from the dead. Not coming back zombie-style, mind you, they are completely intact and relatively normal. They try to go to work, go home, see their families, all parts of their normal routine, except...they have been dead. Naturally, their family, friends and co-workers faint, scream, cry and generally freak-out upon seeing them.

But, theoretically, this would be amazing, right? You could see your long-lost loved ones again. Sometimes many years after their passing, some just months later. No more moving on, no more sorrow, a wonderful miracle, theoretically...

In reality, it's weird and people feel uneasy around the returned. They just don't know what to make of them or what to believe. In a spiritual sense, this goes against everything anyone has ever known. Are the returned sent by God or the devil? How can you pick right back up again with your loved one when they have been gone for so long or when you have just picked up the pieces and started over? Loss is a part of life and as devastating as it is, we do have the capacity to keep living. What if that were turned upside down?

Practically, the returned present another problem. What are we going to do with all of these new people? Some are lucky enough to be reunited with their families, but some have no family or friends left in the world. They are scared and alone. However, towns can't support them, the economy can't support them. We don't have the space or the food supply for everyone who has ever died to come back to Earth.

The already-living face these emotional and practical problems in a variety of ways ranging from acceptance to anger. The governments of the world (and the U.S. in particular) take matters into their own hands to handle the problem of the returned.

The Returned is a breathtaking novel that poses interesting questions. Mott's style reminded me of a poetic Stephen King. One of the things I love about King's writing is his ability to get inside the heads of even his most minor characters in such a way that immerses the reader even further into the story. Jason Mott has this talent as well. The Returned is told from multiple POV's and I felt attached to each of his characters. The arc of The Returned was perfect, with small details being presented in the beginning, then leading to a huge climax and a well wrapped-up ending that leaves you thinking. The Returned will definitely be one of the most talked about books of the year, if not for some time to come.

posted by KimballSK on August 28, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

The whole idea of something like this happening is profound and

The whole idea of something like this happening is profound and an intriguing idea for a novel. You could think about the repercussions of this scenario all day and probably still have more thinking to do the next. I've heard hype about this book for a couple of month...
The whole idea of something like this happening is profound and an intriguing idea for a novel. You could think about the repercussions of this scenario all day and probably still have more thinking to do the next. I've heard hype about this book for a couple of months and expected a lot - maybe I expected too much, but I was left feeling a little cheated.

Don't get me wrong, I liked The Returned. If the world had more people like Harold and Lucille Hargrave, it would be a better place. They were just good people all the way to their core and even after being thrust into a surreal situation, with chaos all around, their actions were admirable and courageous and most likely how we all hope we'd behave under the same set of circumstances.

I couldn't help liking Agent Martin Bellamy, either. Many books I've read portray government agents as cold and heartless, only carrying out orders. That wasn't the case with Bellamy - he was helpful, sympathetic, empathetic, and compassionate. However, despite my instant connection to these three memorable characters, I never felt the same connection to Jacob. Certainly, as a parent, I understood Lucille and Harold's need to protect him, but to me, his character development was lacking.

I was hoping for answers to critical questions and some form of resolution by the end of the book, but that didn't happen. The whole situation is one of fantasy, so maybe the author wanted to leave it up to the reader to decide the logistics of how, why, where, etc.

The writing was masterful (I loved the banter between Harold and Lucille) and the author was very able to portray the emotions of the characters. Although the pacing lagged a little in the middle, I was still anxious to see what happened.

The Returned is definitely worth reading and I predict it will be the selection of many book clubs in the next year and the subject of many heated debates. Just don't expect all the issues to be resolved at the end.

I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

posted by tpolen on August 28, 2013

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  • Posted September 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Returned is one of those books that is quietly moving and th

    The Returned is one of those books that is quietly moving and thought provoking. At the heart of the story are Harold and Lucille Hargrave, whose eight year old son Jacob, drowned some fifty years ago during his birthday party. Now, all over the world a strange and miraculous phenomenon is occurring, where people who have passed away seem to be returning home. Soon enough, Jacob finds his way home to Harold and Lucille.

    Wow, this book grabbed me at page one and did not let go. I love the way author Jason Mott quietly drew me in. The storyline is an unsettling one and makes for great discussion. What if our loved ones returned from beyond? Would we welcome them home with open arms? Human nature is to fear the unknown and those who are deemed different.

    Harold and Lucille are from a small town down South called Arcadia, where everybody knows everyone else and where gossip runs rampant. Jacob is not the only one who has returned, and not before long, the town, and the world over seem divided as far as what they want to do with these people. A few of the other townspeople have returned and I enjoyed the way the author breathes life into Arcadia and its residents. I felt like this was a real place.

    I found this novel to be a wonderfully written piece on human nature. The Returned are viewed as different, and some people want them separated from the rest of society, or even killed.

    Very interesting to me were the dynamics within Lucille, Harold and Jacob's relationship. Harold and Lucille would have flashbacks of their lives since losing Jacob. These scenes were heartbreaking. Here is this little family who has been giving a second chance and I wanted them to have a happy ending.

    My single qualm with this novel is that I didn't get as much details as I would have liked from the Returned themselves. There are no solid explanations given as to why this is all happening. A few of the Returned give some detail about their deaths, but that's about it.

    As the story flows, alternating shorter chapters are included from various points of views of the Returned from around the world. I thought these short alternating chapters were a nice touch as far as showcasing all the different situations involved.

    With its interesting, well written and thought provoking plot, The Returned has made it to one of my top reads for 2013. This is a beautiful novel that showcases the human condition and brings to light quite a few topics to ponder. With the subject matter being what it is here, some scenes were eerie, yet the author never crosses the line and make it nasty or gory. He keeps it just unsettling enough.

    At 345 pages, I read this one in just a few days and that is just what I expect from a great novel, one that engages me until the final page is turned. I love a book that has me wondering.

    disclaimer:
    This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, such as this one, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my copy of The Returned via NetGalley

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Every year at the Book Expo of America there is one book there i

    Every year at the Book Expo of America there is one book there is everywhere and people are buzzing about it. This year, it was Jason Mott's The Returned, which had already been optioned as a TV series by ABC well before the book was even published. (See more info here on the TV show, now called Resurrection.)
    The premise is intriguing- what happens when dead people start turning up alive, looking exactly as they did at their death? Agent Martin Bellamy of the International Bureau of the Returned shows up on the doorstep of Lucille and Harold Hargraves, an elderly couple who lost their son Jacob fifty years ago on his eighth birthday when he drowned in a local river.
    With him is a young boy who looks exactly like Jacob. He was found wandering in China and Agent Bellamy was bringing him home. Lucille, who thought that these 'Returned' were the work of the devil, changed her mind the minute she saw her beloved son in front of her. She was willing to believe it was Jacob because she missed him so much.
    Harold was more skeptical; he didn't know what to make of this boy in front of him, but he didn't believe it was his son. Agent Bellamy asked them if they wanted to keep Jacob, and Lucille prevailed.
    More and more Returned kept turning up, and people became frightened and angry. Protests erupted all over the world, some people believing it was some kind of government conspiracy (what kind of conspiracy, they could not say).
    As the number of Returned began to swell out of control, the President of the United States ordered them confined to their homes, but soon they begin to confine them in government buildings in specific cities. Harold and Jacob were out one day, and they were caught by the police and confined to the neighborhood school, which now housed hundreds of Returned.
    Harold refused to leave Jacob, and Lucille brought them clean clothes and homemade food, visiting every day. But soon the military took over the camps, and visitors were no longer permitted. The situation deteriorated, and people were fighting for limited resources and a place to sleep.
    Fans of the TV series Lost will enjoy this fast-paced, thought-provoking debut novel. Mott's theme of science versus faith will resonate with them. There is an interesting scene where the local reverend is watching a TV show in which a scientist is debating with a minister on who exactly these Returned are, and a man in the audience told them they were both useless as they had no definitive answers. In today's uncertain world, there are parallels to be made here.
    The Returned is the kind of book that you will read in one sitting, but keep pondering its themes long after you finish. The plot draws you into this unfamiliar world, and you will identify with the characters, particularly Lucille and Harold. There are a few twists and turns and some exciting action along the way, and I think this book will appeal to so many different types of readers that it has the ability to become a real blockbuster.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    In The Returned by Jason Mott, August 15, 1966 is a day that Luc

    In The Returned by Jason Mott, August 15, 1966 is a day that Lucille and Harold Hargrave could never forget. It's the day their beloved only child Jacob drowned on his eighth birthday. Jacob's parents dealt with the tragedy in their own way: Lucille with her Baptist faith and Harold with his realism and curmudgeonly attitude. Five decades later, there is something happening all over the world that cannot be explained. People that have died are now reappearing. The Returned, as they are being called, are showing up in random places, hoping to be reunited with their loved ones. 

    Jacob Hargrave was found alone in China and then brought to the Hargrave's door in Arcadia, North Carolina by Agent Bellamy. Harold and Lucille are torn as to how they should react and with what they should think after all these years. They've heard the news reports calling the Returned abominations and devils, saying how unnatural it all is. Other people are speaking about the End of Days like this is a plague against the True Living. Lucille wants to believe it is a miracle that she will get more time with her beautiful son. All Harold knows is that their small town of Arcadia will never be the same once the government begins to intervene and more and more Returned arrive.

    The Returned is a debut novel that has had huge buzz surrounding it...and rightly so. Jason Mott has given us a unique story that is thought-provoking and which gives the reader a lot to ponder. I'll admit it was a tough book to rate and review, only because to me it is very subjective and based on my own experiences and beliefs. The premise behind this of having loved ones return from the dead, looking and sounding as they did however many years ago, is both exciting and frightening. How many of us that have lost family or friends suddenly have wanted to have that one final conversation or to have a chance to say goodbye?

    After I read The Returned and did a bit of research on Jason Mott, I was not surprised at all to find out he also writes poetry. It's evident not only in the way he sets up a scene but also in the way he can perfectly describe a character's emotions. There was a wonderful flow to the story, pulling the reader along as the events happen. With such a fantastical concept, I was afraid the writing would be choppy or even too wordy but such was not the case.

    I really enjoyed the short passages from the viewpoint of the Returned. It let us see the changed world from their perspective and it showed their emotions and thoughts at what is happening to them. I mean, how strange would it be to just wake up or come into being again, only to find out it's ten, twenty or even fifty years later? And to then have to try and find your loved ones who have since moved on and grown old without you. *shiver*

    Overall, I think The Returned is a compelling story that depicts both the good and bad in people while they struggle with an extreme situation. It may be uncomfortable for you if you are a diehard fan of lighthearted stories. But if you are looking for something with a bit more depth than your average fiction novel, I would recommend giving Jason Mott's debut a try.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I was really looking forward to reading this book. I read the th

    I was really looking forward to reading this book. I read the three teaser short stories offered on Amazon, and I guess I was expecting more of a story like those. Let me preface by saying the author is an excellent writer. I would never have pegged this as an introductory novel. It was extremely well written and mostly fleshed out, although there were a few details that make you wonder and are never fully explained. One example would be that everyone seems to be able to just “tell” who are Returned and who are True Living, but it is never discussed how you can tell. The author clearly states in one of the introductory shorts that the book is meant to look at how people deal with loss. There were elements of that, but it seemed to be more about how most of humanity deals with those who are different. Even being told it focused on the loss of loved ones, I was not expecting the book to be depressing, and it definitely leaned in that direction.

    It is not a pretty picture of how humanity would behave in such a situation, but that picture is painted from many of the world’s unsavoury behaviours in prior such situations. I wanted to feel a lot different about this book. It is a thought-provoking idea being reconnected with loved ones that have died. I think there are a lot of different avenues he could have taken that would have made for a more enjoyable book. However, that obviously wasn’t his plan, or he would have written a more enjoyable book. I think he wanted the reader to really internalize how ignorant the world at large can still be, despite how “civilized” we’re supposed to be, and how unaccepting people are of those who are different. Unfortunately, I already see that all too often, and purposefully read in order to get away from “real life” not be reminded of it. I would give it a 3 for my level of enjoyment. As far as quality of writing and storyline, it deserves a 4.

    Rating: 4

    Heat Rating: None

    Reviewed by: Daysie W.

    Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    I think the tv series has really missed on this one......you bar

    I think the tv series has really missed on this one......you barely recognize the book....VERY DISAPPOINTED!! ITS A GOOD BOOK! read it instead.

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  • Posted March 28, 2014

    worth reading especially since Resurrection is based on this book

    Very interesting premise and a good read

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  • Posted March 26, 2014

    ¿The Returned¿ is a thought provoking story of surrounding a sma

    “The Returned” is a thought provoking story of surrounding a small town which turns into an internment camp for people who have returned from the dead (called the returned). Are the returned people? Do they have rights? The situation draws heated debates on both sides for and against, and it’s hard to ignore the parallels to debates in today’s society. The book follows a family who has had their son returned and how they deal (or don’t deal) with the situation and the town comes along for the ride. While outside of the normal type of book that I read I really enjoyed the thought provoking ideas and the development of the characters as they move through the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Interesting and thought provoking

    This book has a main idea that really sticks with you after you read it.

    Unfortunately the main idea sticks with you longer than you can stick with the characters.

    Still, this is a book worth reading.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    Really cool story!

    I thought this book was well written and a definite page turner!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2013

    Interesting

    Couldn't put the book down.

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    steady read

    This was a good story, reminded me of the tv series the 4400.

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  • Posted October 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Returned is such an intriguing plot line. Dead people "

    The Returned is such an intriguing plot line. Dead people "Returned" to peoples lives with no visible signs of ever having been gone. Time has not lapsed for the Returned as it has for the folks that never experienced death. Imagine all the implications this scenario proposes. Family members, ex lovers, friends, enemies all return to their previous lives and to those whose lives they were involved with. Fascinating! This book thoroughly consumed my mind, however; being analytical in nature I started to venture into theories of over population and societal anarchy. I also longed for my loved ones to be Returned to me.

    The only reason I didn't rate is higher is because I still have some unanswered questions. I guess its better that way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Just finished this one...

    Great read!

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  • Posted October 6, 2013

    I am going to go at this review from a different angle.  For me

    I am going to go at this review from a different angle. 
    For me the main plot or idea that was most vivid in my mind wasn't actually the dead coming alive again. The most important aspect and message for me was how the world and people around them dealt with the Returned.
    Ever heard of 'The Wave?
    The dead are returning. There seems to be no specific reason for who, when or why. The numbers of dead returning to the land of living are rising rapidly and the people in charge decide to take action.
    The propaganda machine creates mass hysteria, mistrust, hatred of the unknown and facilitates humans turning on each other and their newly returned loved ones. Grouping, capturing and containing a select group of people just because of their status, in this case not-dead-anymore, and treating them as sub-humans. 
    Committing mass murder to rid the world of live once dead humans, who might be a danger to others, despite the fact none of them have hurt anybody or threatened to do so. Meanwhile the rest of the population looks on silently, as the Returned are taken from their homes, carted off to camps towards an unknown fate. Instead of questioning this injustice and violation of law and rights there are groups of militants becoming vocal. Not in an attempt to stop it but in an attempt to get rid of the Returned even faster. Does that sound familiar?
    Kudos to the author for adding that subliminal layer that questions the morality, actions and mass compulsion on a global level, which is dictated by one authority 'The Bureau' and yet questioned by none. 
    Lucille plays a pivotal role in the sense that although it may seem as if she is leading the Returned in a strike against the camp, what she is actually doing is breaking the cycle. She has found her civil courage and is speaking out. No person dead, live or undead deserves to be treated like a virus that needs to be contained or culled, all in the name of saving the living.
    There are a lot of questions that remain unanswered. Just like they do in real life I suppose. The reader doesn't actually find out why the dead have come back, why only certain people come back and why they suddenly leave again. Is it unfinished business for the dead or do the people they have left behind need to let go of some level of guilt before the dead can disappear again?
    An interesting read that had some subtle sub-layers interwoven within the main plot.
    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Once I read the synopsis of THE RETURNED I knew I wanted to read

    Once I read the synopsis of THE RETURNED I knew I wanted to read it. The idea of loved ones who have passed away showing up on your doorstep, I believe is a very exciting premise. I found the novel to be compelling and very well written.




    Since the premise was so different than anything else I've read, I had no idea what direction the story would go. As people began returning, the Bureau took over the Hargrave’s small town of Arcadia. There were too many people returning, some families didn’t want them and the government needed to put them somewhere. There becomes not only an issue of where they are going to live, but they needed to be fed. These are natural consequences to something like this! So as the Bureau tries to keep control over the returns you begin having people feeling the pressures of the returning taking resources. Mobs begin. On the other side of the coin you also have people fighting for the rights of the returning.These are things I wouldn't have thought about.




    I want to make sure to add, that as I was reading I kept having questions. The novel discussed some of the dilemma of what was going on in the world, but it seemed to me there would be more discussion and more internal thought of the characters than I found in the novel. Another issue that really jumped out at me was the time lapse for Jacob was never addressed; neither Jacob nor the other returns seemed to ask what was going on, how come you are now so old. I believe part of the reasoning would be to show how different the returned were to the living—but I would have liked to have seen this in more discussions, how they are different. I mention it because I felt like the main living characters weren't as complex as I would have liked them to be. I guess for me I felt the story could have gone a little deeper than it did.




    Now even though there were a number of issues with the story I am not saying I didn’t enjoy THE RETURNED. I did. I believe it was an excellent book, but with a few differences I believe it could have been exceptional.




    The complexity of THE RETURNED really makes you stop and think. What would you do, how would you feel, what would you think of them? Twelve years ago I lost my mother to breast cancer. After she passed away, she often showed up in my dreams. She would just magically appear. I’d tell her we thought she had died and she’d say no I’m here now and my brain just accepted it. We would talk and I would tell her everything that was going on…and each time I dreamed of her we would catch up from the last time. I miss those dreams and would do anything to have another one. I’ve never had one with my dad who passed away last year. THE RETURNED for me allowed me to stop and imagine them again, but the story took it where I think exactly where I think it would go if it really happened (hope that makes sense).




    THE RETURNED is a thought provoking, well written, excellent book I am highly recommending. I also want to add the ending of this novel was perfect and might just be one of the best endings I have ever read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I received this book from TLC Book Tours and (and subsequently N

    I received this book from TLC Book Tours and (and subsequently NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.




    It’s fair to say that most people, at some point in their lives, have wished they could have just one more day with a lost loved one. Jason Mott, author of The Returned, is one of them. In fact, it was his dream about his deceased mother that inspired this book-turned-tv-series and I am grateful for his candidness about the book’s beginnings. Released last month, it has received an incredible amount of attention, including the cover of Publishers Weekly. But what prompted me to pick up the book wasn’t its popularity but rather that the author and I share a college alma mater.UNCW isn’t a big school, so I was pretty excited to learn that Mott is a Seahawk. I was so excited, in fact, that TLC and Mott were gracious enough to grant me an interview with him but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.




    But back to the book. The Returned, in a nutshell, is about dead people coming back to “life” in large numbers. The primary focus of the book is the Hargrave family, whose son returns 40+ years after his death. Set in the small town of Arcadia, NC, the townspeople (and the Hargraves) grapple with who or what the Returned are. Are they real people? Ghosts? Spawns of Satan? Miracles? Is the end coming? No one knows for sure, but as the government begins rounding up the Returned in order to assess the situation, tensions arise.




    The Returned, at its most basic level, is a social commentary. It paints a horrifyingly accurate recreation of some of the more shameful aspects in our history, in particular our treatment of particular races/ethnicities. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but I will say that Groupthink and fear-based actions are the driving force behind the story. And what’s interesting is that in most of the reviews I have read this part is largely overlooked (likehere and here). My guess is that it’s because the Returned are paranormal beings and it’s easy to dismiss similarities, but if we were to substitute “Returned” with “Minority” it would be glaringly obvious. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in a television series (called Resurrection) and whether this is a more prevalent theme.




    If you’re looking for a great end-of-summer read then I highly recommend this one. Although it was out of my comfort zone (I’m not big on paranormal), this one was worth it. Rooted in American history (more notably southern history), The Returned peels back the layers of southern hospitality and exposes the good and evil beneath.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Returned is Jason Mott's debut novel. Mott came up with hi

    The Returned is Jason Mott's debut novel.

    Mott came up with his original and thought-provoking premise after his mother passed away. Missing her, he dreamed of her one night. And the next day thought...what if....what if "she actually did come back, just for one night? And what if it wasn't just her? What if it happened to other people, too?"

    And those are the Returned. Jacob William Hargrave died at eight years old in 1966. Almost fifty years later a Bureau Agent shows up in small town Arcadia, MO at Lucille and Harold's door with - well - with eight year old Jacob. Lucille doesn't question the miracle, but Harold does.

    As more and more Returned appear, the miracle loses its sheen. Arcadia is declared a holding area for The Returned. More and more are shipped in. The 'True Living' are feeling crowded out and wronged. Tempers flare and aggression grows. But all Lucille wants is to be a mother to her son again. And Harold, he would do anything to keep Lucille happy. Anything.

    "Just because a person don't quite understand the purpose and meaning of a blessing, that doesn't make it any less of a blessing....does it?

    Mott captured me. I truly had no idea where he was going to go with this story. Are The Returned a blessing or a curse? We hear some of The Returned's own stories in short insert chapters. We follow along as Lucille and Harold try to deal with the unexpected hand that has been dealt to them. And when the Bureau takes control, the struggle to follow their hearts - at heavy costs.

    The Returned can be read on many levels - simply exploring the love we feel at the loss of a loved one - what would you do if you could have one more day again? The Returned reminded me a bit of the movie District Nine - ignorant mistreatment of a race/culture/phenomenon that isn't understood or tolerated. There are some chilling chapters from the colonel in charge of the forced encampment. The 'True Living' townsfolk have their own agenda as well. "There were just too many people in the world all of a sudden. Concessions for life had to be made." Religious questions also arise. The reason behind The Returned is never explained, rather the book deals with the aftermath and reactions to this happening.

    The Bureau Agent, Martin Bellamy is just as much a lead character as Harold and Lucille. He's complex, keeping his thoughts and feelings carefully hidden behind a company demeanour, but adding a nice twist to things as the book progresses.

    But what touched me the most was the relationship between Lucille and Harold. Without revealing any more of the plot, I have to admit that I found my eyes watering by the end of the book. Mott does a fantastic job bringing these characters to life - their love and their relationship was tangible, real and touching.

    What if? Definitely recommended

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    Posted April 8, 2014

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    Posted March 7, 2014

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