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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 25 October 2013
I found this book quite haunting, mainly due to its simplicity.
Jacob drowned in his eighth birthday in 1966 but now he has returned. He is still eight years old but his parents are now in their retirement years. They have hugely conflicted emotions; they are overjoyed to be reunited with their son but is it really Jacob and where has he been? Jacob is not the only one, people are returning all over the world which causes huge problems, people are frightened and there is not enough room.
Harold and Lucille live in a small southern American town called Arcadia and Jacob and the other returned are creating a lot of tension. Harold and Lucille must protect the son they have already lost once.
Jason Mott has written such an interesting story. There are not a huge amount of sub-plots in this book, it is more about the characters and the questions they raise. How would you react if your loved ones returned? How would you treat them? What if you didn't want them back? What if your loved ones didn't return?
The author chooses words very carefully to create an emotive and highly charged atmosphere. This book left me with a lot to think about and Jason Mott is an author I will look out for.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 August 2013
What if... your dead loved ones suddenly came back to life?

No, not as zombies. Back as they were in life.

In The Returned, all over the world, this is what happens. 'Why' is never explained. Nor is 'how'.

The main story is of Harold and Lucille, a couple in their 80s, and their son Jacob, drowned 50 years since. Is he really their son? Can they love him? Why is this happening?

It's a chilling story at times - a murdered family return, teenage first-loves to people happily married, a famous artist unappreciated when he was alive. Between the chapters of Harold and Lucille, dozens of Returned tell their stories.

It's also, inevitably a story about how we react to this occurrence - what is the government response? Camps, gulags, atrocities all make an appearance.

It's a 'quiet' book with only a little in the way of action, and lots in the way of contemplation and reflection. It makes you think about your own dead loved ones - would you WANT them to come back? How would they fit into your changed life?

Very interesting concept, slow build up but well worth a read.

Review of a Netgalley advance copy.
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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This very much put me in mind of the Torchwood series "Miracle Day" - where people stopped dying and things didn't turn out well. It is also initially similar to the newish French TV series Les Revenants, or The Returned, where those who died a few years ago turn up, the age they were when they died, unaware that time has passed, (I've only watched one episode, so can't say if that all continues!). And there are also (brief) elements of Friends Reunited! What if the love of your life turns up again when you're married and settled with someone else? And still wants you?

But this book isn't anything to do with French TV series, Torchwood, or even Friends Reunited. It's set in America, the dead are returning, and the book is based around a small southern town. The main focus are the parents of returnee Jacob, who died 50 years earlier on his 8th birthday. Now he's back he just wants to be a normal 8 year-old - his determination to spout corny jokes through thick and thin is touchingly written. His parents are conflicted - is he really their son or something else? Do they keep him or let the Man from the Bureau take him? Is he a gift from God or the devil? There are others affected by their own returnees, or by the lack of a returnee, and the main story is interwoven with brief chapters about other, entirely unrelated as far as I could tell, returnees. However, there's no supernatural element to this book. Once we've been presented with the facts of the returned, it becomes an observation on how humanity tends to deal with influxes of those who don't fit. You could almost replace the returnees with Roma, or east Europeans, or anyone with a different colour skin or different way of living. Individuals retain their common decency, but for the pack, our tribal tendencies come to the fore and up go the barricades.

If you're wanting ghosts or zombies or alien interference or divine intervention, this isn't a book for you. This is an observation of ordinary people struggling to cope with events beyond their ken. It reads well, the principle characters engage well, and the plot, once you've accepted the lack of anything supernatural, rolls along a rather depressingly obvious path. There are a few small twists towards the end that I didn't see coming, and it will probably re-read well. What disappointed me was that the questions "Where did they come from?", "Why do some comes back and not others?", and "What's going on?" are never explored.
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although this has the same name The Returned and very similar plot ideas, this is not a novelisation of that tv series. This is a good read though. It also has a theme of the dead returning, this time as a world wide event. The main returning character is an eight year old who died 40 years ago. This gives a much different effect to the short period of time in the French tv show. This is designed as a start of a series which will probably focus on different returning characters, which do appear in this book too, but as background and not main narrative.
A good read. There is a prequel now available for your Kindle.
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“What if the end was only just the beginning”

There is another of the new sci-fi series that is currently being played on tv, as “Resurrection”, and starring Kurtwood Smith, Frances Fisher, Matt Craven and Omar Epps. The tv series Resurrection is based on this book (first published in 2013), and as I am thoroughly enjoying the series on tv, I thought I would read the inspiration for the series as well. (This is all not to be confused with a similarly named French series from some years ago, called The Returned, or Les Revenants, which also has a similar theme – all very confusing.)

This novel takes the same premise as the tv series, where people Return; people who have died, some recently, some many years ago come back – seemingly just the same as when they were last alive – the same age, the same people in all respects. But are they? The book takes a similar stance to the tv series in focusing a lot of the time on one family; that of Harold and Lucille, whose son Jacob drowned decades earlier. When he returns as an eight year old boy, they don’t know how to take it. The impact on their family, and the wider community of their small American town Arcadia, and ultimately on the rest of the world as other Returned come back all over the globe, is the focus of the story.

The book moves in chapters focusing on the township of Arcadia, with small interludes after each chapter featuring all sorts of other Returned, glimpses of their lives as Returned and the way they are received over the world. For the reader, this offers a far greater idea of the impact outside the small US town of Arcadia, where we are given the shifts in peoples’ lives on a much smaller scale, as they cope with their own Returned. In the meantime, the specially created Bureau is trying to deal with the situation as well, but when nobody even knows if what they are witnessing can be classified as religious or scientific, and nobody knows how long it will last or how many will Return, how can they begin to deal with this humanitarian issue the likes of which has never been seen before?

I have been enjoying the tv series which has been based on this book (which has taken quite a few different turns on the road of its narrative), which is enthralling viewing. This book is also a great read; I found it thought-provoking and charming, tragic and haunting, as well as slightly troubling and concerning – how would we react if this did happen – a very human story in many ways.

(There are also three new very short prequels to The Returned (The First, The Sparrow and The Choice) which are available now too as audio downloads or Kindle downloads.)
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on 3 April 2015
I am thoroughly enjoying the TV series Resurrection, which is based upon this book. However, although the main characters have the same names, that is about all they have in common. I was surprised by how different the book was from the TV series, but then I suppose that is why the title of the TV series was changed, as almost everything is different. If you have never seen the TV series you will probably enjoy this book and you may even enjoy it if you have, but do be prepared for the differences between them. I would suggest reading the book firs and then watching the series, but whichever you do I think you will probably enjoy both.
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on 26 August 2014
I rate this book as five stars because it had me gripped throughout , the story is this people who have died return not as zombies but how they were in life as if they never died . I kept thinking isn't this what we want the ones we loved and lost alive again ? But what if they did one day knocked on your door , what would you say do or feel ? The characters into a book explore that and deal with the consequences of the returned . Brilliantly written look forward to more from Jason mott
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on 7 May 2014
This book took an interesting and, in my experience, new idea and to an extent wasted it.

From the very start it is clear that the dead are returning to life. Why? Who knows? Not me and I just finished the book. The author explores human reaction to the return of very large numbers of dead people to life. The earliest returnees appear to date from world war 2 , again there is no explanation as to why.

The exploration of reaction to the phenomena is pretty limited. At the end no one, either character or reader, knows why the dead, or at least some of them came back, nor why, in the end the appear to become dead again?? It is hinted, but not confirmed that the dead actually rise from their graves, though, they may travel across the world while doing so. No mention of cremation!

A frustrating read, perhaps intentionally. In my view a good and novel idea was wasted by a disappointingly thin story.
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VINE VOICEon 31 August 2014
Really enjoyed this book, just didn't like the ending. It didn't really explain why this happened, which I wanted to know! I am now watching the TV series which is based on this book, and it's really very different to the book .... apart from there being a little boy called Jacob who mysteriously appears in China, many years after his death. I'm interested to know where the series is going, as it appears that people are coming back from the dead only in one town, whereas in the book it's a worldwide phenomenon. I enjoyed the reading the other mini books which are little prequels to the main story... You don't need to read them, they just give an insight into some other cases. So, all in all, good idea, good story, disappointing ending.
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on 6 May 2015
I've finished this absolutely marvelous creation - an extremely inventive and imaginative story that has a huge 'what-if' factor and that tugs at the heart. The writing is impeccable and the story pulled me in and didn't let go. I can't even begin to imagine what would happen if folk who had previously passed started coming back. Unwittingly, while I got more involved in the story, my mind crosses on those gone before in my own life and you can't help but wonder ...briefly, then you dismiss the thought - this is science-fiction after all.

In this story every angle of human response is covered by the phenomenon. You have folk who are resentful and afraid - The True Living they call themselves - that is until some of their own loved ones return and then they change their tune. You've got those who don't believe it's right and set out to cause trouble for the returned folk, again their actions steeped in the fear of the unknown and unexplainable. Even the government aren't really sure what action to take and feel that segregation may be the answer. Others embrace what they can't describe and experience a rare joy.

The Returned centres around the return of an 8-year old in the small town of Arcadia who had drowned over 50 years previously, his parents now in their old age, and it's just so fascinating to see how this premise develops. Imagine their shock and amazement and disbelief to see the son they grieved for, for so many years ago just turn up on the doorstep as if he'd just popped down to the shop for sweets. Even the government agent who brought him home has a past history of Arcadia so there's an added side-story running through the main tale.

To say I loved this book would be an understatement. Don't compare it with the TV series Resurrection as it is only based on the book and has some added bits for effect that move away from the original story, and while I like the TV series, I much rather the book as it tells an honest tale without any unnecessary sensationalism. Also note that an excerpt of the author's next book (to be found at the end of The Returned) looks just as intriguing a read, and going by how inviting that sounds also after having only read a small part of the first chapter I'm hooked again and I think I'm a new Jason Mott fan for life.
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