Reviewed by Amanda Keats
Though nothing to do with the TV show of the same name, The Returned follows an elderly couple, Harold and Lucille Hargreaves, as they are caught up in a bizarre new phenomenon taking place all over the world: the dead are coming back to life. This is not a story of zombies, rather the reappearance of dead loved ones exactly as they were before they died. They have no memory of how they came to be once more walking around the planet and for this one couple, seeing the return of their eight year old son proves to be both a challenging and rewarding experience.
As the story begins, you begin to ask why it is all happening. Why are they back? Are they really the people they used to be or just echoes of them? Is something far more sinister taking place or is it simply a miracle? As the story continues, it becomes less about the Returned and more about everyone else. How will they deal with the over-crowding or the return of those they loved so long ago? While some seek solace in religion, others refuse to acknowledge them as equal citizens and just get angry.
When the government gets involved and special facilities are set up to house them, it's only a matter of time before the tensions start to bubble over and the living are forced to decide if they will stand by the Returned or leave them to their new fate.
The Returned is not a gripping novel inasmuch as you don't end each chapter desperate to continue and find out what happens next. That said, it manages to become a quietly powerful story, which makes you think about a life's true worth, morality and a fear of the unknown. It’s incredibly thought-provoking and raises more questions than it answers.
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