The Returned - Jason Mott

Genre: Fiction
Synopsis:  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. 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. 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 conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.


Review: Hrm. This was a strange one. It's well-written and fairly easy to read, so the first section of setup and character introduction and all that, was really enjoyable. I was really excited about seeing where the story would go, what the deal with the Returned would turn out to be... and then nothing happened.

The book is almost like an attempted study of the human condition, using the concept of Returned people to instigate a discussion on the concept of a person and the concepts of death and loss. I say attempted, because it never really worked. The entire novel sort of teetered on the fence between a really good horror/thriller, and a deeper look at something philosophical, but it never actually hopped off into one side or the other. I guess the premise, of the dead returning and either coming to terms with that or refusing to accept it can really be them - this does provide food for thought, but no real deconstruction of these ideas occurs in the novel.

The characters suffered a similar fate, being borderline interesting but ultimately not sufficently so to generate any real interest on my part, and in the end it was difficult to care what happened to them. Apparently this has been turned into a tv show - the plot of the show must have veered off wildly from the novel because you'd barely get a film out of this, let alone a whole series.

Short review, but nothing else to say really. Not bad, but not memorable.

Rating: 3/5

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