Sunday, 1 September 2013

Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

The Returned
The Returned

Author: Jason Mott
Series: The Returned
Pages: 352
Publisher/Source: Harlequin Mira
Australian Release date: 1st September 2013

* The Returned is available for purchase at or all good book stores nationally for the RRP $29.99

Synopsis. (Goodreads)

Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were.

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.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

I’m sort of at a loss for words about how to describe this book, it is unlike anything I have read most recently and it bought about a lot of moral and emotional questions about the overall subject matter – the deceased who have returned to life – not reincarnated or in any other form but as they were before they died.

The book centres on an elderly couple in their seventies and their 8 year-old son who has returned exactly as he was before his tragic drowning accident fifty years prior. Told in third person narrative with alternating chapters of a select group of people who have returned; I found this to be unique as we relive their thoughts and see the reactions of those they are returning to which didn’t come without a bout of extremely mixed feelings and worldwide commotion.

Despite the slow pacing, I found the premise for The Returned to be unique and compelling, the plot follows loved ones who have returned to life, exactly the same way they were before death – age, looks, behaviour and reactions; nothing has changed except for their aging family and friends. You can imagine the many reactions to this unnatural occurrence, everyone was at a loss and the government had to find a way to ‘sort out’ the problem.

The author certainly takes us on a thought provoking, intense journey as these long lost loved ones are returning in droves all around the world; there is confusion, anger, joy, chaos and an array of mixed emotions about what should happen to some of them and also the question about what they had actually returned as and why – it was completely unusual. Most of my answers were answered but with a book with this subject matter a lot also sprung to mind and I don’t feel as if we get complete closure about why the dead returned, it was quite subjective.

Jason Mott’s writing was engaging, his words flow beautifully and I found myself completely absorbed in the overall story which was creative and at times dark and gritty which made for a thrilling read. The characters were believable in their reactions and with their emotions and each were likable.

Overall, a compelling read which raised a lot of questions about society, faith, human nature, morals and emotions.

Thank-you kindly to Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read and review The Returned.

Jason MottAbout the author: Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various journals such as Prick of the Spindle, The Thomas Wolfe Review, The Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Measure and Chautauqua. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award and Entertainment Weekly listed him as one of their 10 “New Hollywood: Next Wave” people to watch.

He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and “…hide behind me…” The Returned is his first novel.

The Returned has been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It will air in March, 2014 on the ABC network under the title “Resurrection.”


  1. This sounds so interesting! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll definitely be reading this one.

    Cat @ Addicted 2 Heroines

    1. It was quite unique, I really enjoyed it & hope you do as well :)

  2. I always enjoy thought-provoking reads and this book seems to one of those powerful ones.
    I like the sound of it although it is definitely not a genre I usually read. I'm curious though, so I will check it out.
    Great review, Sharon!

    1. Thanks Nick :) It was definitely different to what I normally read but I needed the change and I quite like this, it was interesting & definitely thought provoking.

  3. This sounds really original and emotional, so I'm gad to see you enjoyed it. I'll definitely keep this book in mind when I'm craving a powerful read that will make me cry. ;)

    1. Thanks for stopping by Blythe :)It was very emotional and quite unique, the writing was also fabulous!

  4. Ooh, so this one sounds really thoughtful and like it will make you ponder about death and life. This is the second positive review of this one I've read recently, so I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for it. :)

    1. It really does Molli! I just wish we could have received a bit of closure.


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