Thursday, December 4, 2014

Revival by Stephen King (Review)

Adult, Science Fiction, Horror, Thriller
Publication.Date  November 11th 2014
Published By:  Harper Teen 
AuthorStephen King

Revival on Goodreads
My review copy:Bought
Where to get:

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.


“People say that where there’s life, there’s hope, and I have no quarrel with that, but I also believe the reverse.
There is hope, therefore I live.”
“Religion is the theological equivalent of a quick-buck insurance scam, where you pay in your premium year after year, and then, when you need the benefits you paid for so—pardon the pun—so religiously, you discover the company that took your money does not, in fact, exist.”
“When you want to feel better, call something a piece of shit. It usually works.”
“Everyone needs a hobby,” he said. “And everyone needs a miracle or two, just to prove life is more than just one long trudge from the cradle to the grave.”
“If our faith is strong, we’ll go to heaven, and we’ll understand the whole thing when we get there. As if life were a joke, and heaven the place where the cosmic punchline is finally explained to us.”


     Honestly, I don't think I will ever read a Stephen King novel I will dislike. King is my alpha and my omega. I grew up reading his book and have read 97% of everything he has published to date. I can even quote passages from his books from memory, so yeah, my opinion might be slightly biased, but man, this guy f**cking rocks. 

     Revival is King's darkest and saddest novel yet. And definitely most psychologically damaging (particularly its conclusion is utmost terrifying). Influenced by classic horror icons such as Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft, it's a really blood-chilling novel, but the chills don't come until the last few chapters and you don't really see them coming at all. They sneak up on you and you're pretty much scared senseless by the time you realize what you have gotten yourself into. And the worst part? There are no monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet. No supernatural creatures that you can write off as purely fictional and definitely not real. You can't put the book down, go back to your mundane life, and pretend nothing happened. Because something happened here. And things will never be the same again. (“Something happened . . . TO YOU! Something happened . . . TO YOU! Something happened, dear Jamie, something happened TO YOU!”)

     As with many King's stories, nothing is obvious or spelled out and you really have no choice but to keep turning the pages to get to the bottom of it all. The storyline spans a decade and its complexity is quite impressive - so many little plot threads intertwining with one another in the utmost brilliant and wickedly clever way. You see it all come together before your eyes and you're rendered speechless. It's epic. Madly and truly epic.

     King's approach to storytelling is predictably sadistic - no surprise there, right? As usual, he takes time introducing both the good and the bad guys, blurring the lines between what's right and wrong, making you care about them, sympathize with them, feel sorry for their fates or tragically bad choices. You can never predict the deaths - they come unexpected and they're brutal. Described with picture-clarity, they really get to you. And you almost feel like you've witnessed them yourself. Or worse, you have known the victims personally.

     The plot line is heavy and sticky, very molasses-like in its consistency. It's a disquieting, deeply unsettling kind of read, and I don't recommend it to people mentally fragile and scared of death. Death is, ultimately, what Revival is all about. This book is gritty and darkly fatalistic, immersed in existential dread and themes of religion, death and destiny. Dark powers, alchemy, occult rituals disguised as science and miracles, madness and damnation - these are just some of the things you'll find here.

     The way King talks about certain things - addiction, loss, mortality, pain - is almost too realistic for comfort. He draws from his own experience (the accident, shattered hip, alcoholism), and he doesn't hold back. You get the whole picture and it's a nasty, dark, horrifying and disturbing picture. It makes you very uncomfortable, mainly because these are things that could happen to any one of us. You don't want to think about it, you want to look away and pretend this has nothing to do with you, but you can't. You just can't. 

     I found Revival to be utterly fascinating and illuminating. In parts controversial (particularly the parts dealing with faith and God), this story raises more questions than it answers and does not end on a hopeful note, but it's certainly a finely crafted piece of intelligent, affecting and mentally stimulating literature and I am so glad I got a chance to read it. Bravo, Mr. King. You did it again.

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