The Returned by Jason Mott will be available Jan 17, 2017. Preorder your copy today!
"Jason Mott's impressive debut novel...is a tense and touching treatise on life, death and life again."
- USA Today
-Entertainment Weekly, Summer Must List
"In his exceptional debut novel, poet Mott brings drama, pathos, joy, horror, and redemption to a riveting tale." -Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This book offers a beautifully written and emotionally astute lens at our world gone awry....Poet and debut author Mott has written a breathtaking novel that navigates emotional minefields with realism and grace."
-Kirkus, starred review
"Mott brings a singularly eloquent voice to this elegiac novel, which not only fearlessly tackles larger questions about mortality but also insightfully captures life's simpler moments....A beautiful meditation on what it means to be human."
-Booklist, starred review
"A wondrous surprise. With fine craftsmanship and a deep understanding of the human condition, Jason Mott has woven a tale that is in turns tragic and humorous and terrifying. Surely this will spark many a fabulous book club discussion." -Eowyn Ivey, New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Child
"A deft meditation on loss that plays out levels of consequence on both personal and international stages. Mott allows the magic of his story to unearth a full range of feelings about grief and connection." -Aimee Bender, New York Times bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
"This is a masterly first novel for Mott...it speaks to many aspects of the human condition....Highly recommended for those who love a strong story that makes them think."
-Library Journal, starred review
"Thought-provoking, occasionally dreamlike...Mott's story of literal life after death will catch readers by their hearts and capture their imaginations....Grab this book as soon as you possibly can."
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Read an Excerpt
Harold opened the door that day to find a dark-skinned man in a well-cut suit smiling at him. At first he thought of reaching for his shotgun, but then he remembered that Lucille had made him sell it years ago on account of an incident involving a traveling preacher and an argument having to do with hunting dogs.
"Can I help you?" Harold said, squinting in the sunlight- light which only made the dark-skinned man in the suit look darker.
"Mr. Hargrave?" the man said. "I suppose," Harold replied.
"Who is it, Harold?" Lucille called. She was in the living room being vexed by the television. The news announcer was talking about Edmund Blithe, the first of the Returned, and how his life had changed now that he was alive again.
"Better the second time around?" the announcer on the television asked, speaking directly into the camera, laying the burden of answering squarely on the shoulders of his viewers.
The wind rustled through the oak tree in the yard near the house, but the sun was low enough that it drove horizontally beneath the branches and into Harold's eyes. He held a hand over his eyes like a visor, but still, the dark-skinned man and the boy were little more than silhouettes plastered against a green-and-blue backdrop of pine trees beyond the open yard and cloudless sky out past the trees. The man was thin, but square-framed in his manicured suit. The boy was small for what Harold estimated to be about the age of eight or nine.
Harold blinked. His eyes adjusted more.
"Who is it, Harold?" Lucille called a second time, after realizing that no reply had come to her first inquiry.
Harold only stood in the doorway, blinking like a hazard light, looking down at the boy, who consumed more and more of his attention. Synapses kicked on in the recesses of his brain. They crackled to life and told him who the boy was standing next to the dark-skinned stranger. But Harold was sure his brain was wrong. He made his mind to do the math again, but it still came up with the same answer.
In the living room the television camera cut away to a cluster of waving fists and yelling mouths, people holding signs and shouting, then soldiers with guns standing statuesque as only men laden with authority and ammunition can. In the center was the small semidetached house of Edmund Blithe, the curtains drawn. That he was somewhere inside was all that was known.
Lucille shook her head. "Can you imagine it?" she said. Then: "Who is it at the door, Harold?"
Harold stood in the doorway taking in the sight of the boy: short, pale, freckled, with a shaggy mop of brown hair. He wore an old-style T-shirt, a pair of jeans and a great look of relief in his eyes-eyes that were not still and frozen, but trembling with life and rimmed with tears.
"What has four legs and goes 'Boooo'?" the boy asked in a shaky voice.
Harold cleared his throat-not certain just then of even that. "I don't know," he said. "A cow with a cold!"
Then the child had the old man by the waist, sobbing, "Daddy! Daddy!" before Harold could confirm or deny. Harold fell against the door frame-very nearly bowled over- and patted the child's head out of some long-dormant paternal instinct. "Shush," he whispered. "Shush."
"Harold?" Lucille called, finally looking away from the television, certain that some terror had darkened her door. "Harold, what's going on? Who is it?"
Harold licked his lips. "It's it's "
He wanted to say "Joseph."
"It's Jacob," he said, finally.
Thankfully for Lucille, the couch was there to catch her when she fainted.
Jacob William Hargrave died on August 15, 1966. On his eighth birthday, in fact. In the years that followed, townsfolk would talk about his death in the late hours of the night when they could not sleep. They would roll over to wake their spouses and begin whispered conversations about the uncertainty of the world and how blessings needed to be counted. Sometimes they would rise together from the bed to stand in the doorway of their children's bedroom to watch them sleep and to ponder silently on the nature of a God that would take a child so soon from this world. They were Southerners in a small town, after all: How could such a tragedy not lead them to God?
After Jacob's death, his mother, Lucille, would say that she'd known something terrible was going to happen that day on account of what had happened just the night before.
That night Lucille dreamed of her teeth falling out. Something her mother had told her long ago was an omen of death.
All throughout Jacob's birthday party Lucille had made a point to keep an eye on not only her son and the other children, but on all the other guests, as well. She flitted about like a nervous sparrow, asking how everyone was doing and if they'd had enough to eat and commenting on how much they'd slimmed down since last time she'd seen them or on how tall their children had gotten and, now and again, how beautiful the weather was. The sun was everywhere and everything was green that day.
Her unease made her a wonderful hostess. No child went unfed. No guest found themselves lacking conversation. She'd even managed to talk Mary Green into singing for them later in the evening. The woman had a voice silkier than sugar, and Jacob, if he was old enough to have a crush on someone, had a thing for her, something that Mary's husband, Fred, often ribbed the boy about. It was a good day, that day. A good day, until Jacob disappeared.
He slipped away unnoticed the way only children and other small mysteries can. It was sometime between three and three-thirty-as Harold and Lucille would later tell the police- when, for reasons only the boy and the earth itself knew, Jacob made his way over the south side of the yard, down past the pines, through the forest and on down to the river, where, without permission or apology, he drowned.
Just days before the man from the Bureau showed up at their door Harold and Lucille had been discussing what they might do ifJacob "turned up Returned."
"They're not people," Lucille said, wringing her hands. They were on the porch. All important happenings occurred on the porch.
"We couldn't just turn him away," Harold told his wife. He stamped his foot. The argument had turned very loud very quickly.
"They're just not people," she repeated.
"Well, if they're not people, then what are they? Vegetable? Mineral?" Harold's lips itched for a cigarette. Smoking always helped him get the upper hand in an argument with his wife which, he suspected, was the real reason she made such a fuss about the habit.
"Don't be flippant with me, Harold Nathaniel Hargrave. This is serious."
"Yes, flippant! You're always flippant! Always prone to flippancy!"
"I swear. Yesterday it was, what, 'loquacious'? So today it's 'flippant,' huh?"
"Don't mock me for trying to better myself. My mind is still as sharp as it always was, maybe even sharper. And don't you go trying to get off subject."
"Flippant." Harold smacked the word, hammering the final t at the end so hard a glistening bead of spittle cleared the porch railing. "Hmph."
Lucille let it pass. "I don't know what they are," she continued. She stood. Then sat again. "All I know is they're not like you and me. They're they're " She paused. She prepared the word in her mouth, putting it together carefully, brick by brick. "They're devils," she finally said. Then she recoiled, as if the word might turn and bite her. "They've just come here to kill us. Or tempt us! These are the end days. 'When the dead shall walk the earth.' It's in the Bible!"
Harold snorted, still hung up on "flippant." His hand went to his pocket. "Devils?" he said, his mind finding its train of thought as his hand found his cigarette lighter. "Devils are superstitions. Products of small minds and even smaller imaginations. There's one word that should be banned from the dictionary- devils. Ha! Now there's a flippant word. It's got nothing to do with the way things really are, nothing to do with these 'Returned' folks-and make no mistake about it, Lucille Abigail Daniels Hargrave, they are people. They can walk over and kiss you. I ain't never met a devil that could do that although, before we were married, there was this one blonde girl over in Tulsa one Saturday night. Yeah, now she might have been the devil, or a devil at least."
"Hush up!" Lucille barked, so loudly she seemed to surprise herself. "I won't sit here and listen to you talk that way."
"Talk what way?"
"It wouldn't be our boy," she said, her words slowing as the seriousness of things came drifting back to her, like the memory of a lost son, perhaps. "Jacob's gone on to God," she said. Her hands had become thin, white fists in her lap.
A silence came.
Then it passed.
"Where is it?" Harold asked.
"In the Bible, where is it?"
"Where does it say 'the dead will walk the earth'?"
"Revelations!" Lucille opened her arms as she said the word, as if the question could not be any more addle-brained, as if she'd been asked about the flight patterns of pine trees. "It's right there in Revelations! 'The dead shall walk the earth'!" She was glad to see that her hands were still fists. She waved them at no one, the way people in movies sometimes did.
Harold laughed. "What part of Revelations? What chapter? What verse?"
"You hush up," she said. "That it's in there is all that matters. Now hush!"
"Yes, ma'am," Harold said. "Wouldn't want to be flippant."
But when the devil actually showed up at the front door- their own particular devil-small and wondrous as he had been all those years ago, his brown eyes slick with tears, joy and the sudden relief of a child who has been too long away from his parents, too long of a time spent in the company of strangers well Lucille, after she recovered from her fainting episode, melted like candle wax right there in front of the clean-cut, well-suited man from the Bureau. For his part, the Bureau man took it well enough. He smiled a practiced smile, no doubt having witnessed this exact scene more than a few times in recent weeks.
"There are support groups," the Bureau man said. "Support groups for the Returned. And support groups for the families of the Returned." He smiled.
"He was found," the man continued-he'd given them his name but both Harold and Lucille were already terrible at remembering people's names and having been reunited with their dead son didn't do much to help now, so they thought of him simply as the Man from the Bureau "-in a small fishing village outside Beijing, China. He was kneeling at the edge of a river, trying to catch fish or some such from what I've been told. The local people, none of whom spoke English well enough for him to understand, asked him his name in Mandarin, how he'd gotten there, where he was from, all those questions you ask when coming upon a lost child.
"When it was clear that language was something of a barrier, a group of women were able to calm him. He'd started crying-and why wouldn't he?" The man smiled again. "After all, he wasn't in Kansas anymore. But they settled him down.
Then they found an English-speaking official and, well " He shrugged his shoulders beneath his dark suit, indicating the insignificance of the rest of the story. Then he added, "It's happening like this all over."
He paused again. He watched with a smile that was not disingenuous as Lucille fawned over the son who was suddenly no longer dead. She clutched him to her chest and kissed the crown of his head, then cupped his face in her hands and showered it with kisses and laughter and tears.
Jacob replied in kind, giggling and laughing, but not wiping away his mother's kisses even though he was at that particular point in youth when wiping away a mother's kisses was what seemed most appropriate to him.
"It's a unique time for everyone," the man from the Bureau said.
Meet the Author
Jason Mott holds a BA in fiction and an MFA in poetry and is the author of two poetry collections. His writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, and he was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. Jason lives in North Carolina.
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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.
I couldn't put this book down. First and foremost an exceptional and engrossing story. It's also a well-written, formally interesting social critique of otherness. I can't wait to see what this author does next. For those complaining about lack of answers, this book is clearly in the magical realism vein. It's not about providing answers; it's about questions, processes, reactions, and ideologies.
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.
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
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.
Beautifully written, poignant, and wise. This would be an excellent book group selection.
Many of these reviews focus in the plot of The Returners, so I'll skip that and ask "would you welcome a chance to have just one more day or even months with a loved one who has passed away"? Or is the very idea of that so "wrong" that you can't even think about it? Probing question and not everyone welcomes The Returners while others embrace them. This book has become my personal favorite that I know I will read again and again. The Returners centers on the emotions and conflicting reactions of the "real living" as well as the impossible logistics of the return of thousands upon thousands of people who had been dead. I am left haunted with personal conflict; appalled by the meaness of so many who hate what they don't understand; and comforted by the love and kindness shown by others. The author's notes were very important to me having recently said goodbye to my beloved dad. Shortly after Dad's passing, I had 3 different dreams of Dad returning and talking to my mom, brother and me; each dream very similar to the author's dream of his late mother. It's so hard to let go....
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.
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
I chose to rent this as an ebook for free from my library. I was 6th on the waiting list and it took me about 2 1/2 months for it to be my turn. During which time I had to fight myself to not just buy it and get it over with. Boy am I glad I didn't. I thought the book sounded interesting. I had to make myself finish it. I guess I don't know what I thought the book would be like. I'm just sorry I just wasted 2 weeks of my life reading it.
I enjoyed this book. I would have liked more detail on why they came back, their thoughts on why they came back, how it made them feel. 256 pages. Another review said there is talk of a series. I hope not.
While there are things about the writing and characterization that I LOVE about this novel, as a whole, I think I'm left feeling a bit disappointed. The imagery, the musical fluidity of the sentence structure, the quality of relationships and emotions are all wonderfully done. The overall plot and substructure of the story didn't work for me, though. I need a premise like this one to provide a greater context--what is truly happening and WHY? I was left with more questions than answers at the end, which is why I rate it a three.
The Returned by Jason Mott is the first novel by the author who pub­lished two poetry col­lec­tions pre­vi­ously. The story takes place in a small South­ern town and asks sev­eral inter­est­ing questions. Harold and Lucille Har­grave lost their young son, Jacob, on his eighth birth­day 50 years ago. One day Agent Bel­lamy of the Inter­na­tional Bureau of the Returned knocks on their door with Jacob in tow. While Lucille embraces her son, Harold is not so sure. In the town of Arca­dia, and all across the world, the Returned are appear­ing caus­ing sad­ness, hap­pi­ness, alarm and over­pop­u­la­tion. While some peo­ple think it’s a mir­a­cle, oth­ers think the Returned are the work of the Devil, yet many oth­ers sim­ply don’t know what to make of this phenomena. The Returned by Jason Mott asks sev­eral very inter­est­ing ques­tions: what would you do if loved ones came back from the dead? Are they your loved ones or are they “copies”? How would the world react? What would the world do with all the over pop­u­la­tion? And more. Mr. Mott tries to answer these ques­tions through a com­pelling nar­ra­tive cou­pled with a grip­ping story. The book is not a para­nor­mal novel, it reads more like lit­er­ary fic­tion if any­thing else. The para­nor­mal aspects of the story are sim­ply there but do not take over the plot. The author uses sev­eral point of views to tell the story, which I always found to be some­what dis­tract­ing unless done prop­erly. Mr. Mott does so prop­erly. How? I found myself car­ing about the peo­ple who were telling the story, each of them has his or hers rea­sons for doing what­ever they think is right at a cer­tain point in time. This novel would be an excel­lent selec­tion for a book club since it raises sev­eral inter­est­ing hypo­thet­i­cal ques­tions and gives the reader a lot to think about. The author leaves many of the queries unan­swered to allow an open inter­pre­ta­tion and con­tem­pla­tion by the reader. As I men­tioned before, the book gives the reader a lot to think about while appeal­ing to their emo­tions. While some­times the book felt a bit slow, it is still and easy read with a fresh and unique per­spec­tive on a sub­ject which has fas­ci­nated peo­ple for centuries.
In Jason Mott’s debut novel, THE RETURNED, those who have died have started to come back. Not as zombies (thank goodness), but intact and exactly as they were on the last day of their lives. Harold and Lucille Hargrave have had fifty years to come to terms with the death of their son, Jacob. He drowned on his eighth birthday, and since then the couple struggled with guilt and sorrow, and they each found solace in their own ways. When Jacob returns from the dead, Harold and Lucille--now in their seventies—find themselves parents to a young boy again. As more and more of The Returned rejoin the living, there are diverse reactions around the world, and Jason Mott gives us glimpses of them while keeping much of the focus on Harold, Lucille, and Jacob and the goings-on in their small town of Arcadia, North Carolina. Arcadia offers a microcosm of the global reaction as The Returned are greeted with suspicion by some and rejoicing by others. Mott does a fantastic job of balancing personal reactions and organizational responses to the return of the dead. The government’s attempt to handle the logistics of sudden population growth is military focused, and the earth’s resources and people’s tempers are equally strained as weeks pass. My favorite parts of THE RETURNED are when its characters find beauty in the simple things. As Mott writes, “When the world was as full of magic as it was these days, it reminded Lucille that the normal moments were the ones that had mattered all along.” When I’m reading a book, I often make note of sentences that I find particularly thought provoking or well done, and I could have highlighted something on every single page of THE RETURNED. Though I’m sure not every reader would give this book five stars, Jason Mott’s writing is gorgeous, and his story of people’s reactions to being able to see their loved ones again—or not being able to see them—is one that will be on my mind for a long time to come. *My thanks to the publisher for providing me a copy of the book through Net Galley in exchange for an unbiased review.
Just before I went on vacation I received a package from the fabulous people over at Harlequin containing a hardcover copy of Jason Mott's recently released novel The Returned, and while I was away on vacation I actually had the time to read and it boy was it ever an experience. The Returned was like nothing that I have ever read before and I mean that in the kindest way possible. It was one of those novels that sounded so different, so unique that I was both curious to read it and worried I might not enjoy it because of how different it is from my usual reads. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be an amazing novel that will worm it's way into your heart and stay on your mind days after you've finished reading it. I thought the premise of the book was new, and fantastic. What would the world be like if the dead started returning from wherever they went, looking exactly the same as they did before they died? Would we treat them as people? Would they be classified as "Returned" and somehow much less than human? Perhaps, they would be more than human? The novel centers around one family the Hargraves in middle America. Harold and Lucille have been watching the news learning about the folks that are coming back from the "other side" when their own boy is found and returned to their doorstep. The problem? He's 8 years old and Harold and Lucille are in their 70's and so their lives are once again irrevocably changed for both better and worse. The story was beautifully written and I completely fell in love with the Hargraves. The dynamics between all of them was interesting to read about, and seeing how each of them in turn was dealing with all these new changes was great. Jason Mott created an emotionally intense read that captivated me so much that I read the book in one sitting. I just couldn't get enough of it. He made his characters so real and so life like it was hard to believe that they weren't living and breathing people. Overall, The Returned was an absolutely amazing debut novel and I commend Jason Mott for writing such a powerful, thought provoking novel that makes you question things and do some soul searching. I haven't come across a novel like this before and I'm so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read and review this novel and look forward to reading more from this author and am very excited to see how the upcoming television show based on the novel will turn out as well as looking forward to seeing where the next book will go. I highly recommend The Returned to people who want a book that will make you laugh, cringe, question your faith in humanity and restore it all in one 352 pages package. It was a really unique read with an awesome premise and had fantastic writing and characters. *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.*
I wanted to like this book. I am afraid it was too disjointed. The meaning if there was one was lost in the back and forth motion.
When a long-dead son reappears on his now aging parents’ doorstep, it’s not clear how this elderly couple will cope with a youngster. But he’s a child of a bygone era, biddable and sweet. And a mother’s love never fades. A father’s love, of course, might be a different thing, fuelled by the intelligent knowledge that the dead do not come back. So “it” must be an imposter, for all that it tugs at his heart. Other lives and stories, large and small, are threaded through this tale. Other dead arise and, as might be imagined, increasing numbers of newly living pose a growing threat to government agencies. Meanwhile the question remains, are these “people” even real? And as long as they’re not real... Author Jason Mott offers an intriguing blend of social collapse and individual human growth in this compelling novel. Hearts and thoughts are deeper than the reader might see. Questions of mercy, love and human kindness abound. And death may or may not, after all, be the end. I wondered how the author would conclude his novel. I was enjoying the read so much I almost dreaded finding it spoiled by some overly simplistic deus ex machina. But it isn’t; the ending is truly beautiful, haunting, powerful, thought-provoking, and absolutely perfect to the tale. I really enjoyed this book. Disclosure: I kept seeing it in stores and eventually asked for it for Christmas.
I was hoping for so much more from this book. The premise sounded fascinating and different from my usual SciFi fare. Unfortunately, this author-who is a noted poet-failed to flesh out the story. Brevity and inference in poetry is a good thing, but in a novel there needs to be more substance. Why and how was this happening and why the governments extreme and severe reaction to it? Just glad I waited for the paperback!
I don't think I have ever cried reading a book. Ever. Until the final pages of this one.
Interesting. I enjoyed it.
I got tired of watching "Resurrection", so went to the source. The book is much better than TV. It turned out to be a surprising tale of redemption and reconciliation. Poor editing of narrative (not dialogue) detracts from the story. Wrong verb tense blurs the meaning of a sentence. Job is not a Gospel. "Site" is a place, not a view ("sight"). I will avoid this publisher.