What? People are returning from the grave and they aren’t trying to eat our brains? That’s exactly what was going through my head as I was listening to The Returned. I wasn’t exactly sure where this story was going but I kept thinking that this could be one elaborate lead in to some sort of zombie apocalypse.
I’m a big fan of zombie novels and I may have been hopeful at one time during this book that some trigger would eventually be tripped in the returned’s mind that would cause them to flip out and start chasing people down. As unlikely as it sounds I am actually really happy that this never happened. I think that if this had turned into just another zombie book that I would have enjoyed it, set it aside and quickly forgot about it. The Returned, however has lingered in my thoughts since I finished it a few days ago.
The Returned primarily focuses on the return of Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s 8 year old son who drowned on his birthday. Much to Harold and Lucille’s surprise, Jacob is unceremoniously dropped off at the Hargrave’s door looking no worse for wear from being dead for the last 50 years. Lucille’s former declaration that the returned were just a bunch of devils is quickly forgotten when her own son is back from the grave. Harold on the other hand is not so quick to accept that Jacob is really his son. Lucille smothers her son while Harold keeps his distance. This distance quickly narrows though as tensions building within “the living” threaten the future of “the returned”.
The Returned leaves you with a lot of things to contemplate. It is impossible not to imagine yourself in this situation and having one of your loved ones suddenly coming back to life. How would you react? Would you immediately embrace the situation and be thankful for the extra time or would you be unwilling to accept that anything like this could happen? Would you be like me and start checking to make sure you got plenty of can goods and a good stockpile of ammo?
I have noticed in a few other books that the “unbelievable” is often made more realistic when the author doesn’t bother trying to explain exactly how in the world this could happen. Jason Mott has apparently noticed the same thing. There are theories galore being expounded by experts on radio and tv shows but I never felt like any one opinion was more worthy than another. So when you walk away from this book there will (by design most likely) be several questions still on your mind.
The note from the author at the end of the book does address a few of these issues while giving you a few more things to think about.
Overall, I really enjoyed listening to The Returned. It is a really good story that will have you asking yourself a lot of interesting questions.
If you are still on the fence then download one of the free prequels to The Returned that are available on Audible. I listened to The First and it really hooked me.
Narration: Tom Stechschulte turns in a great performance. After you listen to The Returned you should definitely listen to The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Swan Song by Robert McCammon. Stechschulte’s narration really brings all of these books to life