Wayne C. Rogers Shares His Thoughts on Stephen King’s ‘Revival’
Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
Scribner, Hardcover, 2014, $30.00, 405pp
I decided to write a review of Revival by Stephen King because other reviewers are either going to one extreme with regards to disliking it, or going to another in their praise of its supposedly horrific ending.
Here’s my two cents worth.
Revival is not a horror novel and neither is its ending.
It’s Stephen King at his best, doing what he loves, which is telling a simple story about people attempting to make it through life after a tragedy has taken place. This isn’t The Shining or It. For something similar to those two books, check out his novellas in Full Dark, No Stars.
Revival is the story of a young boy, who to certain degree, is taken under the wing of the new reverend in town. Jamie Morton is playing outside with his soldiers when Reverend Charles Jacobs arrives at the boy’s house to meet his parents. I think it’s safe to say that they both like it other from the very first moment they meet, even if their lives do take a turn for the worse.
Charles Jacobs becomes the new reverent at Jamie’s church. It doesn’t hurt that Jamie has a crush on Mrs. Jacobs, as do most of the other boys in the congregation. Everybody even likes the youngest Jacob, Tag-Along-Morrie.
Everything is going good until Mrs. Jacobs and little Morrie are brutally killed in a car accident. The Reverend Jacobs then gives the congregation a good-talking-to about religion and God and loosing those closest to you. After that, the reverend is fired and disappears from everybody’s life, except for Jamie Morton’s.
Years pass by as Jamie grows into a young man and plays his guitar in a number of bands. He gets hooked on drugs along the way and is nearly to the point of no return when he runs into Charlie Jacobs and his show, Portraits of Lightening, at the State Fair. Though Jacobs saves Jamie’s life, it’s clear to the young man that the ex-reverend is just a little off center and that’s he’s experimenting with the God-like qualities of electricity and its mystical source. Jamie stays with Jacobs for a while, but then the ex-reverend leaves in his journey to the unknown.
Many years go by before Jamie again sees Jacobs, but it’s all leading to a final confrontation that involves death, the afterlife, and a door into another world.
Some reviewers and even Stephen King himself have discussed the ending as the most horrific thing he has ever written. Not so. It was a good ending, but not the most horrific King has ever written. The journey that the reader takes in this novel to get to the ending is what makes this book so excellent. King is doing what he does best…acting as a storyteller.
Filled with interesting characters that almost seem to be people you know, Stephen King invites us into this adventure that explores man’s quest to understand the unknown and to control the act of life and death. The Revival defines Stephen King as one of the best novelist of the past and present.
Have to agree , the ending of this is not Horrific …but indeed it is a Classic King Tale. I loved the storytelling here …and like a number of other readers have often mentioned it is always good to read a well written story by Stephen King that reminds one of his older stories.
Thank you, Vitina. Many readers say that King’s newer books aren’t as scarey as his earlier ones. It should be pointed out that when King started getting published was back around 1976 or so. There wasn’t very much being written in the horror genre at that time, unless you counted The Exorcist by Blatty, Rosemary’s Baby by Levine, The Other by Tryron, I Am Legend by Matheson, and Psycho by Bloch. Few authors wrote horror because there wasn’t any money to be made unless you had a bestseller. Then King along and brought the genre to life with Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand, and The Dead Zone. Everything he wrote had elements of horror in it, plus his books made money, showing the other writers that a living could be made from this genre. McCammon appeared about 78 or 79, along with Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Charles Grant, Karl Edward Wagner, Koontz turned away from action novels to horror with Whispers and Phantoms and Dark Fall. People were hungry for well-written horror stories, and King opened the door with his. Since that time forty years ago, the public has been inundated with hundreds and hundreds of horror writers (myself included), plus hundreds of horror movies and television shows. It’s much more difficult to scare a reader today than it was back in the late seventies. It’s not that readers don’t want to be scared by stories or novels, but it’s extremely hard to find a new twist on a familiar subject. Even KIng has trouble doing this today. That’s one of the reasons he’s branching out into other genres. What he can still offer the reader is good storytelling. That never gets old or tiresome, and it still takes a very good writer to accomplish it. There’s King, Koontz, Lansdale, Simmons, McCammon, and a few others who are sheer craftsmen at their trade. It take a long time and lot of writing to get as good as those guys. If a person can write a good story with believable characters and a nice surprise at the end, he may one day be able to add his name to the ranks of those above.
I have not read this one yet. King is undoubtedly the greatest story teller of this generation and arguable many others also. I am now geting that urge to grab myself a copy and dive right in.