Author: Jason Mott
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Fantasy
Release Date: 27 August, 2013
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Goodreads | The Reading Room
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.Review by Nara
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.
After watching the book trailer for The Returned, I was really, really excited to read this book. The premise just sounded so amazing! Now, after having read the book, I can definitely see why some people rave about it- all the elements of a good literary novel are there- beautiful, lyrical writing, themes of human existentialism, an examination of human nature- fair enough, fair enough. However, my problem with this book lies in the fact that, frankly, it is pretty dang boring. I don't know about people if general, but I personally like my books to have some sort of pull factor to them before the 80% mark. Make no mistake, if this was not a review book, it would be a DNF. As it was, I did do a bit of skimming in the middle because FREAKING HELL NOTHING WAS HAPPENING. I mean, sure, the writing was really beautiful and subtle and all that, but who gives a crap about the writing when FREAKING NOTHING HAPPENS IN THE DAMN BOOK.
I suppose what I said above isn't 100% accurate. Something does happen very very late in the book. I do have to say that the last few chapters brought up my opinion of the book slightly. The ending was quite good. Rather powerfully, it brought together the underlying themes in the novel. I also quite liked the extra little excerpts in bold/italics from the points of view of various Returned people. They were probably the most interesting sections in the novel.
Personally, I wasn't exactly sure what I was expecting from the novel, but I at the very least wanted to discover WHY the Returned were there. Or, barring that, HOW they got there. For example, I don't even know the mechanics- does being Returned mean that their bodies disappear from their graves? So if you dug them up there'd just be empty coffins?? Maybe this was explained but I accidentally skimmed over it or something. I mean, I wasn't expecting a zombie novel, as a few others seem to have (the trailer makes it blatantly obvious that it's not a zombie novel) but seeing as though this is speculative fiction, I wanted a bit more explanation. Instead the novel focuses much on the living. How they're coping with the Returned, faith and religion, blah blah blah. Which was all just too boring for me.
The Returned almost reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird in a way. Maybe the setting? The lynch mobs? The writing style? Not sure, to be honest. Anyway, I have to say that this book is not a bad book. It's quite well written, but it just wasn't the book for me.
Didn't like it