Revival by Stephen King
Pub. Date: November 11, 2014
Source: a gift from Cass!
Summary: 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.
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary, a hint of Sci-Fi
Recommended for: SK fans, readers looking to become engrossed in a richly woven story with a huge payoff at the end, SK newbies who want to try a novel without diving into Horror
So my first #hailtotheking read. Guys, this book is over 400 pages and I read it in ONE DAY. That alone speaks volumes to King’s mastery of his craft and his power over words. The jacket hails Revival as a throwback to Classic King, with shout outs to Gothic powerhouses like Melville and Poe, with “the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written.” While I didn’t quite get that (and I was VERY disappointed I didn’t lose sleep over the ending – this is Stephen King we’re talking about!), Revival was a damn fine novel and one that left me feeling both mentally and emotionally drained upon finishing.
Over the course of fifty years, Revival follows Jamie Morton as he grows from a little boy playing with army men to a guitarist in a high school band to a guitarist in bar bands that never stood a chance. As that little boy in Maine, Jamie met Charlie Jacobs, the easygoing and friendly new minister the entire Morton family (entire town, for that matter) instantly took a liking to. However, tragedy struck and with the Terrible Sermon, Minister Jacobs walked out of Jamie’s life. Years later as a coke-addicted adult, Jamie finds his path crossed with Charlie’s once more and, over the coming decades, their lives interlock in ways Jamie could never imagine.
It takes so much more than one paragraph, a mere four sentences, to fully sum up Revival. It reads like a memoir of sorts, a fifty-year character study into Jamie Morton’s life. From what I understand, King has done other coming-of-age tales and if they’re anything like this one, you can bet I’ll be reading them! Revival has many definitions, nearly all of which are explored in these pages. Religion, death, identity – Stephen King shies away from nothing and tackles each topic expertly.
Charlie, the electricity-obsessed Minister who lost his faith, was fascinating and I could have read another 400 pages devoted solely to him. He was in his early twenties when he left Maine and when Jaime meets him again decades later, he has completely reinvented himself, taking on a new identity and adopting a backstory. Over the next few decades, he goes through multiple names, multiple personas, all the while keeping his eye on one goal – a goal he needs Jamie’s help with, though he’s tight-lipped about the details.
Revival is a sweeping 400-page buildup to its final conclusion and, I’ll admit I had a hard time getting into it. I expected non-stop action and spine-tingling scenes from the very first sentence instead of a quiet little town full of church-going families. Within a few chapters, however, I was golden and 100% along for the ride. I refuse to say anything about the ending (I had my theories about what the Big Reveal could be and wasn’t entirely wrong), but I will say it was a little disappointing. I think the ending will make or break this book for readers. Revival is a LONG and meticulously-plotted journey and I really feel that if the ending doesn’t work for a particular reader, it’ll ruin the entire experience. Although I had hoped for something truly scare-my-socks-off eerie, I still enjoyed this novel immensely. I’ll just have to head back to early King for my nightmares!