What if people, long-dead people, started reappearing all over the world? Not as zombies, but just as they were when they left?
The first one, quite rightly, would be regarded as a miracle. The first few hundred, an anomaly. A few thousand turns into a trend. And beyond that, it becomes a problem.
In The Returned, award-winning poet Jason Mott drops us into the small-town lives of Harold and Lucille Hargrave, just as they find out that their 8-year-old son, who died in 1966, has come back from the beyond. Lucille is religious and accepting of this new stranger, while Harold is skeptical and distant, at least initially. Still, at first they present a united front against Agent Martin Bellamy of the International Bureau of the Returned. After all, he’s got two strikes against him: He’s from New York, and he works for a quasi-governmental agency, neither of which plays well in the North Carolina town of Arcadia.
Mott captures the complex awkwardness of their early meetings with a poet’s ear for nuance. While the Hargraves wrestle with integrating these two new interlopers into their lives, Southern hospitality is strained to the breaking point. And what starts as an intensely personal circumstance quickly morphs into a civic one, as Arcadia struggles to cope with the ever-increasing influx of the Returned into a town that has gone largely untouched by time.
Tensions flare as a loosely organized militia known as the True Living Movement attempts to take the law into their own hands, dispatching the Returned back to the graves from which they came. Standing in their path is an equally improvised coalition of the local Baptist church (represented here by the conflicted pastor Robert Peters), the International Bureau of the Returned and the U.S. government, whose emergency management skills seem not to have improved much since the days of Hurricane Katrina. As the drama plays out, the sense that things aren’t going to end well is palpable.
The Returne[Wed Aug 27 15:07:09 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. d takes us on a journey into our own hearts and souls, exploring shared grief over absent loved ones and posing questions that are troubling on a variety of levels: How would you react if you were confronted by the sudden reappearance of a deceased loved one? How would it affect your faith, or lack thereof? And when political necessity comes in conflict with personal responsibility, which side would you find yourself on?
In his debut novel, Mott has thrust us into a “Twilight Zone” parallel universe whose door is unlocked with the key of his own remarkable imagination. What happens when one crosses the threshold is up to the reader almost as much as the storyteller.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Check out our Meet the Author interview with Jason Mott for The Returned.Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
What if the dead came back to us on Earth? Would your loved one's reappearance be a blessing or a curse? All over the world, people are spontaneously rising from the dead. For Harold and Lucille Hargrave this occurrence brings the return of their son Jacob, dead 50 years. While they have aged and must relearn how to parent, Jacob is still eight years old. Lucille sees this as a miracle; the void in her life has been filled. For others, Harold included, the returned inspire nothing but confusion and fear, ultimately leading to violence. As the world explodes into chaos and neighbors turn on one another, the Hargraves find themselves fighting for their new life and discovering the ties that permanently bind us across time and space. VERDICT This is a masterly first novel for Mott, previously a published poet; it speaks to many aspects of the human condition through the Hargraves' experience, as well as short segments in the voices of returned people around the globe. Highly recommended for those who love a strong story that makes them think. It has already been optioned for television by Brad Pitt's production company. [See also John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling the Undead for a more horrific take on this theme.--Ed.]--Katie Lawrence, Chicago[Page 74]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In his exceptional debut novel, poet Mott brings drama, pathos, joy, horror, and redemption to a riveting tale of how the contemporary world handles the inexplicable reappearance of the dead. The primary focus is on Harold and Lucille Hargrave, who lost their son, Jacob, half a century ago in a tragic drowning accident on his eighth birthday. Amid global rumors about "the Returned," their son arrives at their doorstep--with an agent from the International Bureau of the Returned--still eight and healthy, as if nothing has changed in more than 50 years. Locals have mixed feelings when Arcadia, their small, backwater Southern town, is inundated with soldiers and taken over as a refuge for the multitude of Returned who have nowhere else to go (not every family wants them back), and Mott ratchets up the tension. Are the Returned walking, breathing miracles? Or signs of the Devil and "the end of times"? Even local Pastor Robert Peters cannot decide how to respond to these people, haunted as he is by the sudden reappearance of the love of his life, a girl who died as a teen. When some of the disgruntled locals take matters into their own hands, there is an apocalypse of sorts and both the frailty and strength of human character become evident; Mott brings depth and poignancy to the Returned and their purpose for existing. Agent: Michelle Brower, Folio Literary Management. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC