Book Review: Revival

Revival by Stephen King

A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs -- including Jamie's mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family's horrific loss. In his mid-thirties -- addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate -- Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil's devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.


Stephen King has been releasing a steady stream of books last year and this year. Joyland was released last year and Mr. Mercedes earlier this year, all leading up to a true classic King release this November, Revival. Now don't get me wrong that Joyland and Mr. Mercedes weren't true King's, if you followed the blog you know that I liked them, a lot, but they were more detective kind of stories instead of the dark gritty supernatural horror that I have come to enjoy from Stephen King. With Revival, Stephen King deftly shows that he is a master in story telling, and seems that he has revived writing the stuff he is best in. Books that you want to put away because they are scary but when they lay there next to you, you have that compulsion of picking it right back up again. Revival is highly addictive, I don't think I need a different kind of drug than a good Stephen King book!

The story of Revival focuses on the life of Jamie Morton, from when he was just a young boy until he was in his late fifties. Revival is told from his personal perspective how he want through a lot of things, the good, bad and very bad times of his life. As you might have come to learn from a lot of Stephen King books is that the story always starts of a bit innocent, introducing the characters and feeding you grain by grain more and more of the plot and direction of the story. So first the story shows the early life of Jamie. One day Jamie is playing with some toy soldiers in the yard, reenacting some battlefield scenes. When some on one day he meets Reverend Charles Jacobs, the new minister in town, they have a short talk and got off on the right foot. Being the religious family Jamie, his parents, brothers and sisters faithfully go to the church everyday, on another day Jamie stops by to visit Charles in his garage and finds some interesting landscape and some other interesting scenery, this highly intrigues Jamie and will stick to him for a long time. A while later Jamie's brother has an accident where he looses his voice and even with all the help the doctors can offer, it can't be cured until they visit Charles again who has a nifty trick with an small current of electricity which allows the return of his voice. After this something terrible happens to the family of Charles, his wife and kid get hit by a car and die, this causes for Charles to loose all the stops and inevitably leads up to him loosing his faith in God and giving in church a memorable speech known as the "Terrible Sermon" which goes into the history books. 

Shortly after this Charles leaves town and Jamie and the rest of the citizens start to live their lives again normally, hoping that they can forget the Terrible Sermon. From this point onwards you see how Jamie is growing up through high school, how he discovers his interest in girls, being a musician and sadly also some drugs in involved. This places Jamie on the wrong side of the track right up until the moment of, I think you can guess it, a chance interference of Reverend Charles Jacobs, who saves Jamie in a similar manner as what he did with Jamie's brother back in the day. Now things do start to get weird as Jamie gets more and more involved in the things that Charles does, at many points Jamie wants to get out but he somehow can't even when he gets out he gets dragged back in when his earlier loved ones get involved. All along the way I was wondering what was going on in the Revival tent of Charles and what possible impact it could have on the ending of the books but wow, when you reach the ending you will be forced to read it twice, yes because it is definitely happening. I have to be honest about when I read Under the Dome that the ending was a bit of a anticlimax and not what I was hoping but with Revival Stephen King made a skin crawling end, just terrific!

When you look at the characters of the book and mainly Jamie and Charles it is unavoidable not to say that they aren't classic King characters. Each have their own inner demons to fight and overcome. Seeing Jamie growing from an innocent child into a rebellious teenager that unfortunately gets hooked onto the bad stuff and Charles who is an new Reverend trying to spread the word of God growing into a much dark role as an evil character is just very nice to see. Espeically the transformation of Charles' character was great to see as along the story you learn that he is curing people with his self made gadgets but in the end you see that everything is connected and that it is much, much darker than first proposed. Spot on characterization. 

The story of Revival spans over half a decade starting in the 60's, now I was born way after that but I have come to learn more about the culture from that time by various other books and movies and I have to admit that Stephen King gave a nice portrayal of those times directly in the lines of how it should be. The best thing of the book is that it takes place closer to our own time going in the early 2008's, I always like it when fiction meets our current day and age especially the ones of Stephen King with a powerful current, quite evocative.  

With Revival Stephen King has written a rich, suspenseful and dynamic story. This is a great return to what Stephen King is best in. Writing a nail biting and highly addictive story that when as soon as you reach the end it will slap you wide awake. I haven't read such a story in a while but everything about Revival is just on par with the excellent writing skill of Stephen King. When you read his books you are in the hands of a master. Let's hope next year will also see some great King releases!

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