The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Returned by Jason Mott

Title:  The Returned
Author:  Jason Mott
Publisher:  Harlequin MIRA
Release Date:  August 27, 2013
Pages:  352
The Returned by Jason Mott
About the Book:  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.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Wanda's Review:  Jacob William Hargrave, son of Harold and Lucille Hargrave, died on August 15, 1966, on his eighth birthday. He died from a drowning accident. Now, about fifty years later, he's standing at his parent's door alive, with Agent Martin Bellamy, a man from the Bureau. Jacob was still a young and vibrant eight year old, but his parents had aged over the years, no longer young. This boy, who appeared to be Jacob, walked, talked, and smiled like Jacob, but how could it possibly be? 

This wasn't just happening in Arcadia, it was happening all over. The Returned - they appeared to be real and true - physical beings, not ghosts. They could be reached out to, spoken to, and they, in turn, could reach back and speak back. But, what next? How long will the Returned be here? Where did they come from? Are they even real? 

Taken from epilogue - "people can be with those they loved once more. A place where a parent can once again hold their children. A place where lovers can find one another after being lost. A place where a boy can, finally, tell his mother goodbye." 

Someone described the Returned as "time out of sync." To me, that is the perfect description of this book.

I was first lured into this book because of the interesting premise, and I'm sure it will arouse many different feelings. But, unfortunately, I just couldn't get into it. The two characters that I was drawn to most were Pastor Peters and Lucille Hargrave. I especially enjoyed the Pastor's story, but I never connected to the others. The storyline didn't seem to go anywhere, with too many unanswered questions. There seemed to be a myriad of obstacles that were never solved or really explained. Although the book is well written, it failed to captivate me. My rating - 3 stars. 
A copy of this book was sent to me on behalf of Harlequin from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:  Jason Mott holds a BA in fiction and an MFA in poetry and is the author of two poetry collections. His writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, and he was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. Jason lives in North Carolina.