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.
This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.
Revival is without doubt a very good read – it’s bound to be – but somehow it falls a tiny bit short of a great read which is a bit of a disappointment for a Stephen King novel. Of course there is wonderful writing a plenty, particularly with regard to first love, loss, heartbreak, and death, but the slow middle section makes the narrative drag a little. The conclusion’s on the right track but ends up being so bizarre, (even though I could see what King was trying to say,) that I couldn’t quite take it on board at first reading. The ending benefits from a second reading if you can stomach it! I’ve read through various reviews debating the final conclusion – what lies beyond death – a lot of readers found the ending pretty disturbing. In my opinion it kind of is, (nobody wants this outcome to be the truth,) and isn’t, because it’s verging on being too fantastical, talk about tripping! I expect that’s the point…. the final trip… electricity style!
Overall, I’d say do read Revival but be aware that it might or might not reach your exultantly high moon struck King expectations. If you have an addictive personality this book is for you! Reactions vary. Nevertheless, Revival is certainly an entertaining read, portraying the main protagonist’s journey from childhood, and youth to middle age, in a heady eclectic mix of music, (Jamie’s years playing guitar in a band,) family life, religion, love, sex, and loss, and Jamie’s downfall into drugs. As well as addictive drugs we are introduced to pastor Charlie Daniel’s obsession with electricity, his moving away from the church (after his young family die, in horrible circumstances – this is the pivotal point that shapes the story,) resulting in his experimentation into the darker side of electricity, (with side effects that would make prescription drugs look pretty lame,) until he commits the ultimate terrible act against nature, and God.
I particularly enjoyed the dark humour reflections on getting older… just check these quotes and you’ll see what I mean:
“The three true ages of man are youth, middle age, and how the fuck did I get old so soon?”
“On the way home I remembered a bit of old folklore about how to boil a frog. You put it in cold water, then start turning up the heat. If you do it gradually, the frog is too stupid to jump out. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I decided it was an excellent metaphor for growing old.”
“When I was a teenager, I looked at over-fifties with pity and unease: they walked too slow, they talked too slow, they watched TV instead of going out to movies and concerts, their idea of a great party was hotpot with the neighbors and tucked into bed after the eleven o’clock news. But—like most other fifty-, sixty-, and seventysomethings who are in relative good health—I didn’t mind it so much when my turn came. Because the brain doesn’t age, although its ideas about the world may harden and there’s a greater tendency to run off at the mouth about how things were in the good old days.”
See what I mean, King really does understand how the body ages but the brain stays forever young. Cruel or what?
Music outlives us all…. see this quote and you’ll know what I mean…
“Music matters,” he told me once. “Pop fiction goes away, TV shows go away, and I defy you to tell me what you saw at the movies two years ago. But music lasts, even pop music. Especially pop music. Sneer at ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ if you want to, but people will still be listening to that silly piece of shit fifty”
A difficult one to rate, on first reading – 4 stars. Might benefit from a second reading – the more I think about this one the more it intrigues me!
Have you read Revival? What did you think of it? Are you a fan of Stephen King?
Bye for now,