ARC Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

17182421Rating: 5 /5
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal
Expected Publication: August 27, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
Number of pages: 352
Source: ARC from Netgalley
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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.


I am still at a loss for words. It’s amazing how the stories of fictional characters can push you to look deep within yourself, encouraging you to find your own answers to the same questions asked. Very rarely do I feel so connected that my heart bursts with emotions so raw and intense, that my soul feels broken but also warm and complete at the same time. Reading this book was a unique and uplifting experience, and I kind of understand why it had a bidding war for film rights. It’s that good, folks. It’s that good.

In this book, there’s a crisis. The world is encountering a phenomenon never seen before. The dead are returning, unaged, looking as they were when they died, confused and oftentimes treated less than humans. Instead of following one person’s story in a line, we get to see other people’s lives, too — how they took the news of a deceased loved one coming back to them, what they have felt about it, and what they’ve learned from it. It shows a web of relationships where one’s little story is related to another’s, and as a reader, we learn something from each and every one of them. And that, somehow, makes everything a wee bit harder.

We mainly follow the lives of Harold and Lucille Hargrave, whose 8 year old son, Jacob, arrived on their doorstep, their son who 50 years ago drowned at a nearby river. For fifty years, they’ve lived on without their child. It’s been a hard journey, but they survived, and meeting their son again was like fate giving them a chance to remember how it was to enjoy life and its simplest pleasures, to love again, to forgive, and to let go.

Sure, the world-building is a bit sketchy, and there’s a bit of plothole in which it was never explained why the Returned came back, but I didn’t care. The whole book gives you this feeling where there are just some things that can never be explained, some things that are best left just as they are and appreciated for what they are. That sometimes, we just need a little bit of faith and hope, and find meaning in it. I don’t know, but you can say it made me think about things a lot. About my life. About my relationships with other people. It made me philosophize about the meaning of life. After turning the last page, I choked up and felt an urge to go to my family and friends to say I love them and that I’d risk my life for them. Until now, whenever I think about this book, I can’t help but feel teary-eyed. The impact was just too great.

I’m not going to say a lot about this one to you guys. You’ll have to read it and find your own answers and interpretations; let the magic come to you in its own way. It’s very powerful, emotional, and poignant, with stunning prose and real characters whose feelings and hardships are not hard to empathize with. Human nature can be scary, but at times, it can be so beautiful, too. Thank you, Mr. Mott, for writing such a masterpiece. Needless to say, in one way or another, my life was changed.

Let it go, Harold.
Love him. Then let him go.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.


This book’s trailer is already out! It’s called RESURRECTION and will be out either this fall or midsummer 2014. Attached is the trailer:

the returned jason mott

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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    • FayeFaye says

      Great! I’m sure you’ll love it if you’re into the philosophical kind of books! It has Christian undertones, though, but it’s not like “believe in God, heathens!” but it’s more like “everything has a reason” “we should have hope” kind of stuff, while also putting God’s name out there. HAHA.

  1. says

    Great review, doll! I’ve been seeing this book everywhere since the huge display that was at BEA and i’ve been curious what they were making such a big fuss about. It sounds like a really fascinating read. I don’t mind that kind of world building if the story flows well with it. I don’t always need every single thing explained you know. So I know what you mean. But like dude this sounds so unique and kind of gave me goosebumps just thinking about it. Anything that’s related to having lost a child always gets to me – and having them come back, I’m not actually sure how I would take that after so long. I’m definitely curious about this one now!

    • FayeFaye says

      Ohhh, I didn’t know it was hyped so much in BEA! It’s really worth the hype, though, ’cause it’s really awesome. Did you watch the trailer? After reading this book, it gave me all kinds of feels, it was awesome. I can’t wait ’til you read it!

  2. dale pearl says

    Your reviews are so good Faye. You have me wanting to read this one as well. I have to many on my plate as it is. Reading 21 at one time isn’t my all time high but it is probably 10 more than I want to push over. Hopefully I can get to this one before August.

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha. Just read one at a time, Dale! Although I’m juggling several ones myself, so who’s to talk ,yeah? :P Request it on NetGalley!! Never hurts to try!!

  3. says

    Oh, wow! Thank you so much for this wonderful review! I can’t begin to express how great it feels to know someone really connected with the book. I’m doing a little dance over here! :)