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review 2020-07-31 04:20
The Returned by Jason Mott
The Returned - Jason Mott

Audience: Adult

Format: Hardcover/Owned


Harold opened the door that day to find a dark-skinned man in a well-cut suit smiling at him.

- first sentence

This book was okay. People start returning from the dead, not coming back from the grave, but just appearing in places all over the world. There is no pattern to where they appear or who returns, or how long they've been dead. So many of them come back that the "true living" get nervous. The returned are placed into camps and it just goes downhill from there (as we would expect). Imagine the religious objections, the people who don't accept those who are different, etc.
The book is well-written, but I found it just ok.

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review 2019-06-26 00:02
The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott
The Wonder of All Things - Jason Mott

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. After the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds disappear. Ava has an unusual gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. Now the whole world knows, and suddenly people from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to catch a glimpse of The Miracle Child. But Ava's unique ability comes at a great cost, and as she grows weaker with each healing, she soon finds herself having to decide just how much she's willing to give up in order to save the ones she loves most. 






POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING:  Sensitive material within this plot for those who have lost a child. Suicide is also mentioned, though only momentarily. 



In the town of Stone Temple, North Carolina, Ava, the teenage daughter of town sheriff, Macon, attends an air show one day where she witnesses a horrific plane crash that not only takes down a grain silo but also gravely injures her best friend, Wash. Instantly at his side, by just placing her hands on Wash and saving his life, Ava reveals a healing gift she's kept secret for years. 


Once her secret power is revealed, of course it takes no time for members of the scientific community to start up pleas to study Ava. Specialist doctors show up in Stone Temple, loaded down with cameras and electrode equipment. What they don't realize is that each time Ava taps into her gift, it weakens her with each healing. With each "save", Ava battles through various illnesses, temporary blindness, drastic weight loss, persistent chills, at one point even falling into a coma. Still, it doesn't stop locals from visiting her, asking for help "just one more time". How many healings does she have in her before the damage is irreversible?


There's quite a bit of sadness weighing this story down. The plot centers around that transitional period in life between the magic of childhood and the painful realities of adulthood, the earliest moments when adulthood begins to chip away at that youthful, dreamy optimism with the stark realities of sickness, death, fractured relationships. But there's also that internal fight to hold onto some of the former magic.... what a struggle that can be!


Macon, as the father character, was a bit of a disappointment. For a father and sheriff, there seemed to be a lack of backbone in him. Often, when at a loss for what to do in a situation, he chooses to just go with the crowd, sometimes to the detriment of his daughter's well-being. Carmen, Ava's stepmother, seemed much more protective of her. The relationship between Ava and Walsh is what really drives the story along. 


This was one of those ones where the plot had a ton of potential but fell flat on the follow through. I was really expecting a heavier presence of the fantasy / paranormal element to be worked in but it just never really reached the intensity I was hoping for. Good story in the moment, but much of it fades from memory pretty quick. I will say though, there are quite a few powerfully written passages... makes me curious to pick up some of Mott's other work! 


"... I can't think of a single time when I didn't want to hear the sound of your voice... just talk to me, Wash. Sing something to me. I just want to hear your voice a little more...."


Beneath the roof of the old cabin, among the dust and the cold night wind that came through the broken window, carried on the legs of the moonlight, beneath the gentle crackling of the fire and the warmth that was filling the cabin more and more, beneath it all a boy held tightly to the girl he loved and a girl slept in the arms of the boy she loved and the rest of the world did not exist.


The paperback edition includes a reader's guide with discussion questions, author Q&A and an excerpt of Mott's debut novel, The Returned (which later inspired a tv show by the same name). 

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review 2016-01-06 20:00
The Choice
The Choice - Jason Mott

This is the last of the three prequels for The Returned (see also The First and The Sparrow), which follows one of the returned after coming back from the dead.


Only in this short story, that doesn't really happy. The girl who disappeared 20 years ago and was probably murdered is not the main character by far. Instead we follow her boyfriend who's gotten on with his life, is married and has a child. When the girl returns he starts wondering what to do, stay with his wife of return to her?


Which I think is a very weird choice to make. They were teenage lovers after all, twenty years have passed, not to mention the fact that he has a complete family now. However, this is basically all that happens, and I think this one (of the three) is the least a good representative of The Returned.

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review 2016-01-05 20:00
The Sparrow
The Sparrow - Jason Mott

This was another short story released to interest people in The Returned, and focusses on the story of a little girl. Apparently she's also mentioned in the novel, but I didn't remember that.


Of all the three short stories (there's also The First & The Choice, this one stayed with me most. Even though it is also very short and this is very obvious in the ending, which feel more than just a little bit rushed, I quite liked it. I only wish there would have been a bit more explanation as to where the returned are coming from and how does it work, since this isn't really addressed in the novel either.

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review 2016-01-04 08:00
The First
The First: A Prequel to 'The Returned' - Jason L. Mott,Victor Bevine

Some time ago I read The Returned which features an interesting story on how people respond when their deceased family and friends return from the dead. Not as zombies, but they just are there again. Especially that idea I found intriguing.


The First is the first of three prequel short stories that belong with that novel, featuring the story of one of the returned each. In The First the story of the very first of the Returned is told, which I thought was a nice addition to the other book. The story is rather short and I think it would have been a bit better had it been a bit longer, but I think it will make a nice introduction. 

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