What if the dead came back? The Returned by Jason Mott

Jason Mott’s debut novel, The Returned, explores the idea of what would happen to individuals, society, and the world if the dead were to return without warning. Mott’s spin on the idea lends itself to a thoughtful,  moving story which is not a typical ‘zombie’ or ‘alien’ novel. Instead, The Returned is a story about human relationships, grief and loss, love, morality and how society deals with difference.

The Returned centres on the experiences of an elderly couple — Harold and Lucille Hargreaves — whose eight year old son Jacob returns from the dead. Should they accept him or should they send him away? And what of the other ‘returned’ that arrive in their community? Is their presence a a miracle or a sign that the ‘end of days’ is at hand? How will society respond and what impact will the returned have on the present day relationships of the living?

After a strong start, Jason Mott slowly introduces a wider cast of characters not all of whose stories are fully resolved which may frustrate some readers but it is very well written and leaves a strong visual impression which perhaps explains its attraction for ABC who have a serialized drama based on The Returned  in development to be produced by Brad Pitt’s Entertainment production company with ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Jason Mott’s writing is perhaps stronger than the plotting but The Returned is a very readable first novel from a writer who has previously published two collections of poetry — “We Call This Thing Between Us Love” and “… hide behind me …”

The Returned by Jason Mott is published by Harlequinn. ISBN 9780778315339.[Disclosure: A free ARC was provided via Netgalley.com for the purpose of this review.]