At first these returnees are greeted with delight, but as more and more people appear, a tipping point for space and supplies causes forced incarceration and rationing. Interned in a prison camp, Jacob the eight year old returnee, is joined by his living father who watches over him, as wave after wave of the departed fight for cots and food. The living are pitted against the newly living and both begin behaving badly. In the end, this incident will bring out the best and the worst of humankind.
This is a thought provoking novel for anyone who has yearned to be reunited just one last time with a relative or a friend who has died. It explores what might happen if this should become a reality, and recalls the old warning “be careful what you wish for.” The Returned is also the basis of a television series, “Resurrection” that debuts in March.
If The Returned interests you, also try The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. This book is almost the reverse of Mott’s novel as, instead of the dead returning to life, some of the living one day just disappear. Perrotta explores how a small town has coped with this major disruption three years later and how no resident has been left untouched.