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.