Book Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

thereturnedJacob 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.

Provided in ebook format from

This is a tough book to review.  An elderly couple are confronted with their 8 year old son, who died decades ago, standing on the porch with a man from the FBI.  The Hargrave couple are not the only ones to be confronted with their loved ones returning apparently from the grave – whole families are coming back to the place they feel they should be, all across the world.  More and more come back, some are accepted, some not.  How the different global governments deal with it differs, and the US government starts rounding them up into internment camps – one based in the town where the Hargraves live, slowly pushing the people out of their homes as more and more of the no longer dead keep being bused in.

Finally, Lucille decides to make a stance, which brings things to a head, at least in their part of the country.  Much of the book, little seems to happen. More Returned arrive, then slowly start disappearing (with or without “help” of the army). The True Living object, riot, picket the camps. The Returned who are not in a camp struggle with being back in the world, and are hounded and harassed.  It’s never explained why the Returned come back – presumably to compound that the Governments never find out why and can only say the Returned are being “processed” – without telling what “processing” means either.

In the end it’s about “goodbyes”, and attempting to get explanations for why something happens, without always getting the answer you think you’re looking for.

Some reviewers have given this a 5 star review, and to be honest I’m struggling to justify one that high – this is somewhere in the 3 to 4 star range, bumped down to a 3 due to the ebook formatting issues I had – see below.

(note: the ebook format I got – which ended up being read on an ipad mini with Kindle software, was not the best formatting, with few page and section breaks. This meant that the story line could change focus from one character to another with no break, which lead to a small confusion for the reader).

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

    • since many of the ebooks I get are ARCs, I try not to mention formatting issues unless they seriously affect my enjoyment or reading of the book. When I read an ebook that has been formatted properly, it’s such a joy now and shows how it can be done (the fact that I’ve had one from a self published writer, with near perfect formatting, just puts the larger publishers to shame)


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