Book Review: “Revival” by Stephen King

 

Revival

I have read almost all of Stephen King’s books, so it is a delight to see his writing becoming nearly perfect in Revival. It is a story of a man’s life, from his childhood well into his sixties. Like the dragon in Chinese myth that was painted on the wall but became alive after its eyes received the finishing touches, six-year-old Jamie Morton came in touch with reality when the shadow of Charles Jacobs fell over him. That shadow would continue to exist in Jamie’s life, through music, love, drugs, sickness, death, and ultimate horror. It is an amazing life that draws you in, helplessly yet so naturally that it feels like breathing.

Revival is a story about initiation — that secret and sacred moment when you realise some of the truths are lies and all the lies are in fact fiction. It is about faith — how it can be constructed and augmented and then assaulted and eventually destroyed. It is about the search of Self — there are things in your life to which you hold on as the ultimate source of willingness and courage to keep living.

All of these are clear for Jacobs, but less so for Jamie. Indeed, although Revival is mainly Jamie’s story, we see Jacobs far more clearly as a character that elicits awe and fear. Particularly when Jamie is in his fifties, sometimes he sounds like Bill Hodge from Mr Mercedes. He is some kind of Nick Carraway who witnesses — and rides along — the rise and fall of a macabre version of Jay Gastby, out of both curiosity and pity. He never challenges that shadow over his life that is Jacobs, even after the latter’s death.

It is interesting to see King paying tribute to all those writers and stories that influenced his life and writing. Even for readers like me, who know nothing about H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, the idea of the Old Ones are attractive in a mysterious way — something dark and chaotic, always lurking, urging you to go on and plunge into that dark abyss. You do not have to read King’s short story “Jerusalem’s Lot” in Night Shift to comprehend the last 70 pages of Revival, but it is always nice to understand where an established author began his career.

Ultimately, Revival is a great story of growing up in one of America’s small country towns throughout the second half of the 20th century. I love the casual references of various popular writers — who would have thought that King has read Victoria Holt? — as much as when I was reading Bag of Bones. On the other hand, while King’s grasp of cutting-edge technologies is truly amazing, it serves as another reason why Revival sometimes reminds me of Mr Mercedes and even Cell.

What I learned from this book: It is OK to introduce brand new characters at the end of a book. Also, if your writing involves many, many minor characters, it helps to keep track on them and all the strange things that happened in their lives.

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angela
    May 24, 2015 @ 04:16:35

    This sounds like the next Stephen King book I am going to have to read!

    Reply

  2. Book Guy Reviews
    May 24, 2015 @ 04:47:26

    I need to get my hands on a copy. I’ve heard nothing but great things. Thanks for sharing the awesome review! If you’re ever interested in some other great book reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!

    Reply

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