|(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)|
One summer’s day, Agent Bellamy of the International Bureau of the Returned arrives at the home of Harold and Lucille Hargrave with their young son, Jacob, in tow. Jacob, who drowned on his eighth birthday almost fifty years before, is among the many long-dead who have been reappearing around the world, exactly as they were when they passed.
The Hargraves are no longer the young parents who lost their child that tragic day, but Lucille embraces Jacob as if it were yesterday, thrilled to have her darling son once again. The more skeptical Harold is not so sure. He was the one who found Jacob’s body in the river all those years ago; how could this little boy truly be his son?
From the Hargraves’ tiny Southern town of Arcadia to every corner of the globe, the Returned are appearing in increasing numbers, and their loved ones are both filled with gladness and alarmed by the implications. Questions of why the dead are returning remain unanswered—is it a miracle to celebrate or some portent of the end of days? Some, like Lucille, refuse to temper their newfound happiness with dark explanations, but many in Arcadia are fearful of the Returned. As public sentiment swings against them, the seemingly docile Returned are rounded up and detained in prisonlike camps. Their numbers continue to grow, and the camps become increasingly overcrowded and are targets for the brewing fear and hatred among the living.
When Jacob is interned, Harold stays with him, still confounded by what it all means. While one faction in Arcadia grows violent in its efforts to expel the Returned, others grapple with the sudden presence of those long absent—from an entire family murdered long ago under mysterious circumstances to the troubled first love of the town’s minister. As the skein of the once close-knit community unravels into a tangled “us vs. them” rhetoric and retribution—and similar public hysteria erupts around the world—the very definition of humanity will be called into question.
At once disquieting and poignant, The Returned is a remarkable debut work of fiction that blends elements of many genres—from the dystopian thriller to the classic Southern novel. Jason Mott has written a wholly original story that is sure to spark debate now and for years to come.
An engrossing and thought-provoking book that will haunt you for days. Jason Mott's debut novel, The Returned, has stayed with me long after I put the book away. How could it not? A story about the dead rising for no apparent reason, other than to take back their place in the world. Why wouldn't I want to read this book?
Harold and Lucille Hargraves are in their seventies and have just been told that their deceased son, Jacob, has returned. He's still eight years old - the same age as when he died all those years ago. Unsure of how to feel about the situation, Harold goes along with his wife, Lucille, and accepts their son back into their home. The only thing is, now Harold begins to wonder more about these 'returned' folk - what exactly are they? and, why are they back? As the Hargraves begin to settle into their new sense of normal, the world around them begins to crumble. Soon, the International Bureau of the Returned have taken over the Hargraves hometown of Arcadia. They have transformed the local school into a camp for the returned and have taken to canvassing the town and arresting the returned. Harold and Jacob get taken in and wind up being held at the school. Lucille manages to visit her family, but eventually visitation rights are taken away. Meanwhile, folks in town are unhappy with the situation and have taken to protesting outside of the returned headquarters. As tempers in the town flare, dangerous designs are put into play. No one is safe!
Well written, engaging, and emotionally compelling - these are the words I would use to describe The Returned. This is the sort of book that pulls at heartstrings and makes you feel badly for the so-called villains in the story. When you read about Fred, you want to dislike him and his hatred toward the returned, but you can't. Why? Well, because his wife didn't return and that is something that has been eating away at Fred the entire time. He can't understand why everyone else was lucky enough to be reunited with their loved ones, but he wasn't. He takes that hurt and confusion and lashes out at everyone around him - no matter the cost. And then there is Bellamy, who at first didn't seem like such a bad guy. Cripes, he even helps some of the returned escape from the confines of their internment camp. However, he doesn't let Harold and Jacob leave - nope. Instead he continues to meet with Harold and keep him locked up, alongside his son. We do find out later why he kept Harold and Jacob, but even so, I still think he should have just let them go. As for the good guys in the book, what about Harold - you can't help but root for him and his family. The more you learn about him, the more you begin to understand why Harold has been unable to embrace Jacob's return so readily - his guilt and sorrow bubble to the surface and reveal all. Oh, and Lucille, the matriarch who just couldn't bear the thought of anymore returned folk getting arrested or killed - she is a force to be reckoned with. These characters are what make this book so rich and layered - they are the icing on the cake! Through these people Mott is able to explore the premise of his book in an open and honest manner. He is able to utilize them to ponder such questions, as Who exactly are the returned? Why were they returning in faraway places, instead of where they had passed away? What exactly are the returned? Why could the return eat and eat, but not sleep? What was their purpose? Did the returned really want to come back - did they have a choice? Why didn't everyone who had passed away returned? What did this mean for the world, if all of the returned returned - would there be enough space for everyone? And, why did the returned reappear, if they were going to disappear again? There are so many questions to ponder and some are answered, but some are not. We never do find out why the returned have risen, but I suppose that is left unanswered for a reason - perhaps, so we can divine our own answers as to why we believe they have returned. I think they were brought back to bring some sense of peace to their loved ones - or at least that is what happened in the Hargraves' case. At the end of the day, this book had me invested and spellbound the whole way through. This is a book that I just couldn't get enough of and I loved it for that reason alone. Plus, it did have me wondering how I would react if my grandmother or best friend were to return - would I simply embrace the magic of it all, or be wary of them? Hmm. Talk about food for thought, eh?
So, yes, I would definitely recommend Jason Mott's, The Returned, to everyone interested in a great new read - you will love this book! By the by, the story was optioned and is being made into a TV show called, Resurrection. Here's the link for the show's trailer: Resurrection
And, here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule page: The Returned
GIVEAWAY: Thanks to the publisher, I am allowed to give away one copy of this terrific book. All you have to do is leave me a comment - don't forget to include your email address! US/Canada residents only (no PO boxes). Last date to enter is October 1st. Good luck!!