Friday, August 30, 2013

ARC Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

Title: The Returned
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.

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 by Nara

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

Overall: 4/10
Plot: 1/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 4/5


  1. Sucks that the book was boring when you were really excited to check it out. Great review though :) And thanks for the honest opinion!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

    1. Yeah, it definitely wasn't what I expected...
      Thanks Janina :)

  2. Hey, that reminds me that I need to read To Kill A Mockingbird soon!

    Anyhoo, I never really considered this book. The characters and plot you described seem horrid. BLEH.

    Fab review, Nara! <33

    1. You should definitely read To Kill a Mockingbird! It's quite good, but a bit slow at the start.

      Yeah the plot is a bit meh.

      Thanks Mel!

  3. Oh. I'm not sure that I would have understood this one at all-- and to make things worse, I'm a questioner too. Too many unexplained phenomenons = Megan confused. This also sounds really boring, unfortunately. I hope the next book you read is better, girly!

    Megan @ The Book Babe's Reads

    1. It actually wasn't really confusing, it's just that the focus wasn't on that area, if that makes any sense at all haha. So the unexplained phenomena weren't really needed for understanding of the novel. It's just that I really like to have my phenomena explained so when they weren't it was like -_-

      I'm reading The Iron Traitor right now; I'm definitely expecting to like it :D

  4. I have this book on my Kindle and I can't wait to read it. Unfortunately, I still have to finish some other books that I need to review, so it will have to wait a couple more days. You're not the only one who thought things moved too slow in "The Returned", because I've read some other reviews that complained about the same thing. Still, I think I'm going to like it. The description made me very curious, so I really hope it won't disappoint me too badly. :) I'm a patient reader and I can take some slow action if the book has something real good at the end.

    Oana @All Fantasy Worlds

    1. Yeah, definitely read it with an open mind! As I said, it wasn't a badly written book, it just wasn't the book for me :)

  5. Eek! That sucks that it was so boring. That's usually a case for a DNF. If you can't get through it in a decent amount of time, there's no reason to waste that time where you can read something you like. I actually haven't even heard of The Returned, but I'm staying away from it now ;) Doesn't sound like something I would enjoy.

    1. I definitely agree, boring books = DNF. There was actually a lot of hype about this book around the blogosphere so I had been rather excited to read it, but yeah, clearly, it was just too dang boring.

  6. It was such a struggle getting through it haha. My mind just drifted everywhere so it took about 10 times longer to read it than it would normally take me to read a book :/
    Thanks Aman!

  7. Ah, the dreaded forced reading to the end because we have to review it! I make myself do that as well because I think it justifies a honest, negative review if we felt that way. Sounds like this book is more for the literary experience more than a fast-moving plot. I'll keep that in mind for my review!

    1. Yeah that's exactly what I think! I pretty much always finish my review books (no matter how painful) because it helps back up what you're saying in your review. Unless it's just ridiculously painful, in which case I feel it's fair enough if I DNF.

  8. Every time I see this book on a blog or on Bloglovin I stop for a minute and think I should read it because one of my favorite baseball pitchers is named Jason Mott(e). It sounds like it would be so good but I'm glad I read your review because I don't like boring books (who does?). It also reminds me a little of a show from a few years back, The 4400. I remember I got bored with that pretty quickly.