Warning: Contains language
Revival: A Novel by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had to take some time to process this book before I could actually write a review because my only thought upon finishing Stephen King’s Revival was: WHAT THE FUCK?!
A couple of weeks later I’m able to put together several semi-coherent thoughts on what I think is King’s best novel in recent years. I’m an “old school” King fan. I tend to set the bar kind of high for new King novels since Carrie, Pet Sematary, and The Shining are some of my favorites. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit disenchanted with King’s new novels…until now.
Revival takes the reader on a journey through 50+ years of Jamie Morton’s life. It begins innocently enough, as young Jamie plays in the dirt with his toy soldiers. Yet, from the moment the shadow of Charlie Jacobs passes over Jamie’s Mountain, it is clear that no good will come of this meeting. Reverend Charles Daniel Jacobs comes to town with a passion for the Lord and electricity. He uses both for good, breathing life into the small church and healing Jamie’s brother with electric medicine after an accident. When Charlie Jacobs suffers his own trauma, however, everything starts to go south for the young pastor.
I was torn through much of the beginning, Jacobs seemed like a man lost after tragedy, but I could not shake the feeling of unease that fell over me whenever he reappeared. That is the feeling that makes this book so compelling.
Revival is just what the title implies: a revival of good ol’ Stephen King horror. It’s not in your face horror, it’s in your mind. One of the scenes that will always be stuck in my head involves a dream Jamie Morton has after being “cured” by Reverend Jacobs. I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice it to say that the worse part are the sounds and tactile feelings described rather than the sights.
There are a couple of issues that I have with the book. First, it had a tendency to be a bit slow. I got bogged down in the monotony and the details, some of which I felt were unnecessary. The thing that kept me going was the knowledge that something WAS going to happen and it was going to be BIG. This brings me to my next issue: the ending. I’m not going to give anything away but everything leading up to that pivotal moment was electrifying (pun intended). The climax happened pretty much the way I thought it would but somehow managed to still catch me 100% off guard. Seriously. What. The. Fuck.
That moment alone made the book worth reading.
Not going to lie, this book might be a little upsetting for the religious folks. It takes a hard, uncomfortable stance on miracles, the church, God, and the afterlife. Then again, it would be a Stephen King novel if it wasn’t upsetting and uncomfortable.
Revival is a tale of obsession. Whether one is obsessed with a hobby, an addiction, religion, or finding a cure for what ails them, this novel seems to serve as a warning. Humans don’t need to know everything about the universe and what lies beyond. Sometimes, questions are better left unanswered.