Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Returned (The Returned #1) by Jason Mott

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.

Every once in awhile, I read a new author that just makes me sit back in astonishment.  This story is just so beautifully, hauntingly written.  Mott has a way of turning a phrase that makes you understand exactly what he means and at the same time realizing that though the description is perfect, you yourself would have never thought to put it that way.  'Without permission or apology, he drowned.'  It's Shakespearian, yet Mott has a voice all his own that will render you speechless.
Mott doesn't stop the magic with the wording, however.  His character creation has blown my mind.  We don't get lots of information about the characters.  We know very little background.  We see them as they are, but the details we're given about them is enough to let us know who they are deep inside.  Their desires and fears are laid open before us, and really, isn't that what we're all comprised of?  At the end of each chapter is a page or two about one of the Returned.  Even that little snippet from each made me feel as if I'd known them my entire life and cared deeply about them.  It's astonishing to me that Mott was so easily able to pull me into his creative mind so effortlessly.
As for the story, it kept me captivated.  People are returning from the dead, and with no explanation.  There are hints that some of them remember being dead, but they won't tell.  Do they remember?  Do they hold the secrets of life after death?  And what caused them to return?  Everyone reacts differently to the reappearance, or lack thereof, of a loved one.  This book calls into question politics, religion, ethics, and most importantly, how would you act?  If long-dead Uncle Pete suddenly showed up at your door, after you'd finished the grieving process, how would you react?  More importantly, would you want to keep him or send him back?
This is definitely one to put on your 'to read' list.  Regardless of the type of fiction you enjoy, this is right up your alley.  You'll find yourself transported to another world that's a lot like your own and you'll realize how easily it would be for your own reality to become like Mott's.  It's pure genius and incredibly well done.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Shawn

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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