The Returned by Jason Mott ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: death, family, outrage, goverment “control”
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)
Summary: Loved ones coming back from the dead, a.k.a. “The Returned”, catapult society into some unknown territory. Is it a miracle? Is it a curse? What does it all mean?
You think people coming back from the dead, and you think the worst, right?
As I was reading about Jacob, the young son of Harold and Lucille, returning from the dead as the small boy he was when he drowned, I kept thinking… okay, he’s going to be a zombie, right? Something is going to go wrong here, isn’t there?
And things did go wrong, but not in the way I thought they would. Instead an entire society is divided over what to do about the Returned, an epidemic occuring all over the world. Riots, attacks, brutal murders are happening all over. The Returned are segregrated from the living and treated like crap by some, while others think it’s a miracle. An unexpected moment to share with someone you loved.
Jason Mott jumps from Harold and Lucille’s story to their regretful town pastor and to another neighbor who wants to get rid of the Returned as soon as possible. Dispersed between are short vignettes from the Returned, speaking of past and present experiences. Structurally, The Returned could have been stronger (though it might have just been the formatting of the ARC that made it a little jarring), the pacing sped up, and the action could have been written with more clarity. There were several instances where I had to go back and reread scenes just to get the picture right in my head.
But it was the ending that really affected my review of this book. That and the author’s note. I was super surprised to be crying on a subway platform in those final passages. During my reading, I found myself waiting for something gruesome to occur when, instead, it was the stark contrast of reactions from the people experiencing this that turned out to be the most disconcerting. Was it jealousy or fear of the unknown that prompted people to become so blood thirsty for people who had already died once?
I have no idea.
I’ve noticed a running theme in a few of the books I read this year (i.e. 11/22/63 by Stephen King and All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill). Sometimes what sounds so great doesn’t end up to be all that great afterall. The Returned joins this group with the confusing control of the government, the pain of having to watch a loved one leave more than once, and the realization that time does not have a pause button.
The truth is many of us have lost someone important in our lives and if we haven’t, we will. I’m pretty positive we would give up just about anything to have one more moment to laugh together, share a story, or just share a cup of coffee. Even if how it was happening was still a blurry concept… isn’t it enough that it was happening at all?
There’s so much to think about after finishing The Returned. Days after I reached the final page, my emotional reactions are still coming in waves. It’s definitely a book to check out.