Also by this author: The Wonder of All Things
Published by MIRA on August 27, 2013
Genres/Lists: #30Authors, Diverse, Fiction
Read synopsis on Goodreads
I received this book for free from NetGalley, TLC Book Tours.
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
It’s fair to say that most people, at some point in their lives, have wished they could have just one more day with a lost loved one. Jason Mott, author of The Returned, is one of them. In fact, it was his dream about his deceased mother that inspired this book-turned-tv-series and I am grateful for his candidness about the book’s beginnings. Released last month, it has received an incredible amount of attention, including the cover of Publishers Weekly. But what prompted me to pick up the book wasn’t its popularity but rather that the author and I share a college alma mater. UNCW isn’t a big school, so I was pretty excited to learn that Mott is a Seahawk. I was so excited, in fact, that TLC and Mott were gracious enough to grant me an interview with him but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.
But back to the book. The Returned, in a nutshell, is about dead people coming back to “life” in large numbers. The primary focus of the book is the Hargrave family, whose son returns 40+ years after his death. Set in the small town of Arcadia, NC, the townspeople (and the Hargraves) grapple with who or what the Returned are. Are they real people? Ghosts? Spawns of Satan? Miracles? Is the end coming? No one knows for sure, but as the government begins rounding up the Returned in order to assess the situation, tensions arise.
The Returned, at its most basic level, is a social commentary. It paints a horrifyingly accurate recreation of some of the more shameful aspects in our history, in particular our treatment of particular races/ethnicities. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but I will say that Groupthink and fear-based actions are the driving force behind the story. And what’s interesting is that in most of the reviews I have read this part is largely overlooked (like here and here). My guess is that it’s because the Returned are paranormal beings and it’s easy to dismiss similarities, but if we were to substitute “Returned” with “Minority” it would be glaringly obvious. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in a television series (called Resurrection) and whether this is a more prevalent theme.
If you’re looking for a great end-of-summer read then I highly recommend this one. Although it was out of my comfort zone (I’m not big on paranormal), this one was worth it. Rooted in American history (more notably southern history), The Returned peels back the layers of southern hospitality and exposes the good and evil beneath.