Review – The Returned by Jason Mott

By | August 11, 2013
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

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

I’m not saying for a moment that I didn’t enjoy this book, but I am a little mystified by some of the rather overblown statements being made about it. The premise is interesting, but not particularly original – the dead returning, not as “the undead”, but as they were at the point they died. There are so many that society can’t cope, so camps are set up to contain them. The story centres on Harold and Lucille, an elderly couple in the deep South, whose eight year old son Joseph returns half a century after being drowned. It’s a love story, and a story about acceptance and change and facing up to personal challenges with love, but set against a background of society disintegrating under the pressure. There are some other well-drawn characters: Agent Martin Bellamy, helping to keep order while coping with his own personal challenges as a result of the returned, and the bigoted caricature of Fred Green.

It’s a good read, makes you think, and there are obvious historical parallels in the internment of the returned and the extreme vigilante action which follows.  But I found it ultimately unsatisfying – there was none of the “spookiness” you might expect from such a story line, and no attempt to explain why the phenomenon should be happening other than it providing people with an opportunity to put things right. Overall, it lacked the “wow” factor for me, although it was an enjoyable enough read.  I do notice that there are now two prequels available – something that seems to be becoming a growing trend – but I think I’ll leave it there.

My thanks to netgalley and Harlequin/MIRA for the advance reading e-copy. The book will be released for Kindle in the UK on 6th September, and in book format at the end of August. See Jason Mott’s website for more background detail. 

3 thoughts on “Review – The Returned by Jason Mott

  1. Lovely Treez

    I've heard a lot of buzz about this one and I initially thought it must be connected to the French drama series The Returned recently on Channel 4. I think it's just coincidence they both appeared around the same time! I think I'll pass on this…the tv series was very good though! 😉

  2. Marie Monaghan

    I was just scrolling down to post almost exactly the same comment as Treez has – that I felt sure this was something to do with the TV series of the same name. I think that backs up what you said about the premise not being particularly original, the fact that a book and a TV series with the same name and a very similar premise have both coincidentally been making waves.

  3. Anne Williams

    Thanks for the comments ladies – sadly,I didn't watch the TV series (my old eyes can't cope with subtitles, and my french is too rusty!). I didn't dislike this book, it raised a lot of interesting ideas – but I think the timing of its release might have brought it more readers than it would have otherwise had…

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