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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 17 December 2014
A better read than l was expecting. Started reading it when watching the series but the book goes further than the series. A very good read and it was a pity to finish it. When reading how the author came about writing it, l could fully understand and empathise with his reasons. Having read it, l can see how the next series could be made. However, the series so far is different from the book but that could be to keep people watching; curiosity.
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on 4 April 2016
I bought this as I had watched the adaptation on Sky Atlantic. As the show was cancelled, I was interested to see how it should have ended. However, it could only have been loosely based on the book as after reading the book, my questions were still unanswered.

Concentrating on the book though, it was very hard to judge as I couldn't help but compare it to the TV show. It had a very interesting concept running through it, and it was written very well so had I not watched the TV show first, I may have enjoyed it more.

I would recommend to those who haven't watched the TV show.
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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I noticed this book I assumed it was connected to either the French movie Les Revenants or the subsequent TV series of the same name. The TV series was released in the UK as the Returned and the movie re-named (from They Came Back) to fit in with the series.

Now the film and the series have somewhat different rules. The film saw the dead return, emerging from the graveyard in which they were buried. In the series the dead seemed to just appear. There were a limited number of the revenants in the series, all of whom had died in the last forty years, and the phenomena seemed constrained to a specific location. In the film all the dead had died within a ten year period and it was a worldwide phenomenon.

This book is unconnected to the film or series but has a similar premise. The dead are returning and no-one knows how. The event is worldwide, many of the returned died a considerable time before (in one case over a hundred years), they appear (how is never explained) randomly - so a young boy who we follow in the story, Jacob, appeared in China and was then brought to his (now elderly) parents in the USA by the International Bureau of the Returned. The living (or True Living as they start to be known) can tell if someone is Returned on sight. As more and more return the story looks at the differences in reactions between various people, positive and negative, as the World Governments begin to treat the Returned as something less than human.

The story, in some respects, is thus a little thin as we are more looking at an exploration of character, their reactions and emotions. This made it, for me, a fascinating book as Mott juxtaposed the events in the small town of Arcadia against individual stories, touched in brief, around the world.

In this the dead can die - one young boy dies of an aneurysm for the second time - unlike those in the film and series. They seem hungry but sleep little.

As I say, this isn't connected with the series or film in any way that I can tell, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is an interesting book. Do not read it looking for answers, however, Mott is as vague as to the cause of the event in this as the series is in its own right.
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VINE VOICEon 23 June 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As someone currently enjoying the Channel 4 French Tv series 'Les Revenants' [The Returned] I wondered at first how similar this would be but although the basic premise sounds similar the similarity did not detract or make this any less powerful. They both start from a similar situation, although this is mainly set in small town America. A child that died 'returns', not in a zombie way, as a flesh and blood creature and they look the same age as when they left ... for this book's main family this was decades before.
It also has similar themes to the Torchwood series 'Miracle Day' with the scary responses from the Government that bring in some interesting political themes about the threat to society alongside the portrayal of public unease and suspicion that unnervingly rings true!
I did find this a little disjointed in places but the emotions and dynamics within the central family were well written and moved me. It doesn't explore why this has happened but focuses on the impact on the community [and communities] as more and more 'returnees' arrive. Interspersed within the story of Jacob and his parents, Harold and Lucille, are brief stories about other returnees across the world and through the news we hear about reactions and responses of different governments with internment, brutality or more tempered responses explored.
I understand that like Les Revenants this story is also being considered for television or film translation and I will be interested to see how this would translate to screen ... my instinct is that this could be a very powerful visual experience as I found myself imagining the scenes very clearly. A sequel is certainly possible and I would read it!!
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on 27 August 2014
This was a great disappointment. I read all the little prequel tales and was looking forward to the full book but it was a real struggle to finish it. Nothing really happens. I kept waiting for something good/interesting/exciting to happen but it didn't. It only gets 2 stars because it was a great idea for a book but I felt it could have given so much more. It does make you think 'what if' all the dead returned but it doesn't really give you much more than that to think about.
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on 24 September 2014
I have just finished reading The Returned and I am not sure how to review it. At present I am watching the television series and enjoying it, so I thought I would read the book at the same time. My first reaction was that if I had seen someone who was dead I would be afraid thinking that they were a ghost, but as in the case of Jacob after the initial shock his mother accepted him even if the father was sceptical. The reaction of Fred and his cohorts was more believable even though I think he was wishing his wife had returned. There was no explanation as to the reason why people were returning from the dead and then eventually disappearing again. It was quite disgraceful the way the government dealt with the vast numbers that had returned, but I don't think they knew how to handle the situation. I hope the television series provides us with an explanation, but I am sure if it is a success it will leave us up in the air while they make a second series.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A curious, haunting tale - its unfolding not as expected. Despite the supernatural theme (all over the world dead reappearing exactly as they used to be), this at its heart is a love story: that of old Harold and Lucille Hargrave. They never fully got over the death of their eight year old son Jacob half a century earlier. Now he has come back. Can they again be as they once were...?

The novel's background is dramatic indeed. The number of returning dead completely overwhelms. Countries cannot cope with the influx. Enter the military, swiftly constructed refugee camps filled to overflowing. Some fear this an invasion by "things" in human form. Life is for the living, not these freaks. Tensions overflow. There are riots, massacres.

Focus, though, is mainly on Harold, Lucille and Jacob. The old couple are great - Southerners and proud of it, formidable and colourful, forever bickering (this a particular pleasure), fearlessly standing up for what they believe right. Woe betide any who try to take Jacob away!

Also impressive is Agent Martin Bellamy, a coloured New Yorker trying to keep order as the town of Arcadia bubbles. (Interestingly he is the character with whom author Jason Mott most identifies.) Some readers may feel less happy about the portrayal of vigilante farmer Fred Green, his motives unconvincing and, towards the end, his actions decidedly over the top.

No explanation is given for the sudden reappearances. There are hints they represent a chance to put right matters that had been left unresolved - an opportunity to come to terms. (Jason Mott says writing the book helped him to do this.)

Fellow reviewers are better able to compare this novel with other "Back from the Dead" offerings around. I can only comment on the book itself. It held my attention all the way through: absorbing, thought-provoking, and ultimately most moving.
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on 7 September 2013
Reading the synopsis of The Returned, you could be tempted to call this a zombie novel. After all, people returning from the dead are the essence of zombies, but even if there is that similarity, The Returned is definitely not what I would call a zombie story - and I'm completely OK with that.

Instead, The Returned is more of a study of humanity - biases and bigotry, but also love, memory and connection. The central characters, Harold and Lucille, aren't easy to get to know, but they are intensely familiar because they are so ordinary and could be anyones parents, grandparents or neighbours. When their son, Jacob, returns after dying nearly 40 years ago, Harold and Lucille have very different reactions but welcome their son back into their lives as if no time has passed at all.

And although neither of them are particularly unique, as characters they are easy to like and to understand. Their actions and reactions feel right, and match their personalities and beliefs, and because they are so ordinary they are easy to relate to (as much as you can relate to someone whose son has come back from the dead).

There are also flashes of what happens to other 'returned' and their experiences on re-entering the world, and I found these infinitely fascinating, although at times confusing and they did seem to become less and less as the book progressed.

The plot is actually fairly slow-moving, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but there were times when my attention started to waiver - I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the situation in their town intimately but there were occaisonal lulls which I found difficult to adapt to. There are also a lot of unexplained plot lines, things that seem to just fade into the distance and I was left with quite a few unanswered questions, however there are some prequels being released shortly which should hopefully give a little more insight into the world.

What The Returned does do exceedingly well is raise a lot of moral and ethical questions - how would you react if someone you loved came back from the dead? Many of the characters in The Returned find that their reactions are not exactly what they would have expected, or that their reactions cement the type of person they are deep down, and also made me question what my own reaction would have been.

As a debut, The Returned is impressively written, moving and intricate, and I'm excited to read more of Jason Mott's work in the future.
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on 23 February 2014
First of all, this is not the same as "Les Revenants"; it has the same basic premise, but is also very different from the French TV series, which I loved, by the way.

On the positive side, this book is indeed intelligently written and Mott successfully manages to create a specific atmosphere; while reading you can imagine the small town of Arcadia and feel the sense of loneliness and stillness. His description of nature is very poignant and the imagery that he conjures up is very moving and beautiful.

In spite of this, the book never really "catches fire" and though there are some moments when interest is raised and some exciting event is expected, nothing much happens and the majority of the book remains on the same level throughout. Honestly, I thought that reading through the book was a bit of a task; it isn't exactly the easiest book to get through in one night, though I doubt that that was the intention.
I think for me, the problem was including the quote on the back of the book, which predicts that this book would be perfect for many book club discussions. Overall, I think that that would be the ideal place for this book and that the main function of it is to discuss among other readers, talking about the issues raised.

In conclusion, this is an intelligently written book, full of poignant imagery and Mott's motivation for writing is apparent and should be praised. However, it doesn't really go anywhere and reading it is a bit of a struggle.
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on 6 October 2014
Not sure it wasn't all just an elaborate metaphor about learning to deal with your inner demons, but it was a gripping read which was hard to put down, and left me with a lot of questions. The idea of people coming back years after their death and getting back together with their loved ones was challenging enough - how would you feel? But when mankind does its usual thing and starts to persecute and lock them all up, it opens a whole new set of moral questions.
Part of the quality of the book is the way it constantly leads you to sympathise with contradictory view points and exposes prejudices in yourself. The characters, good and bad, living and returned feel very real and rouse a strong curiosity about how it will all turn out. Near the end, there is some muted action which culminates in a tense stand-off and dramatic finish. As the dust settles again, the ending is a bit of an anti-climax, but at the same time provides a comforting resolution and opens a whole lot of new questions.
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