Revival (2014) – Stephen King

 

This past Christmas, my mother picked me up the latest Stephen King novel, Revival. I’d seen it in stores, had read the flap, but wasn’t quite sure where I stood on this one, but, as of yet, the man hasn’t really disappointed, so I finally dug into this one.

The first three-quarters is filled with warm nostalgia, a love of music, young love and the recurring interaction over the years of their lives between two characters, Jamie Morton and Charles Daniel Jacobs. Their lives touch one another over the course of decades, as both grow and change, and Jacobs always has a huge influence over Morton’s life, whether he likes it or not.

Jamie first meets Jacobs, when he is 6 years old, and Jacobs arrives as the new, young Pastor in small town, Maine, with his lovely wife and child. Even then Jacobs burgeoning obsession with invention and electricity is apparent, and will only go stronger over the years, particularly when tragedy strikes.

But miracles, revenge, and forces beyond comprehension are nothing new to King readers, though Jamie, as the main character, is in for a troubling ride.

We flash forward through chapters of their lives, Jamie becomes a musician, and a drug addict, but when Jacobs, with his secret electricity is able to cure him of this addiction, things take a turn for the weird and frightening.

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Over the decades the two cross paths over and over, friendship turns to distrust, and possibly more, as Jacobs obsession, his all-consuming need for knowledge, discovery and perhaps even revenge fuels him to become someone Jamie no longer recognizes.

But the two are drawn inexorably together, as fate isn’t quite done with them, and the after-effects of the cures Jacobs extols may be giving glances at more than what the human mind can handle.

I loved the first half of the book, because King has such a way of telling stories with young characters, I recognize myself in young Jamie, and I so enjoy how he brings him to life. As the story progresses, and we move through Jamie’s life, I was struck by how short the book seemed, 400 pages, which, if we’re honest, is rather short for a King novel, and found myself constantly wondering how things would play out.

The final quarter of the book brings Jamie’s past back in a big way, shows how far Jacob’s obsession has gone, and a truly dire, Lovecraftian even, ending that actually filled me with dread. There are hints of Shelley, which is awesome, having of course, just re-read Frankenstein before this novel, and once he had lulled me into a false sense of security and nostalgia with the first part, and put me through the pains of Jamie’s addiction and recovery… He pulled the rug out from under me completely with the ending. And I love that he did it, though I imagine there are a number out there who didn’t. There’s a nice gothic, terrifying feel to it, that just worms into your soul and twists there. Awesome.

Once again, King rules, long live the King.

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