Thursday, 8 January 2015

Book Review: Revival by Stephen King


Revival sees the Word Master, (yes, you, Mr King) take us on a journey that thrills, excites and haunts us. I started reading Stephen King as a twelve year old, and He had me at Carrie, he truly did.

I've been waiting for a novel like this since Desperation, his last truly great novel, in my very humble and often humbled opinion.

Reviewing King is something I find near nigh-on-impossible to do. Why? Because he has a reputation for writing way above anyone else, and I have to say, it is a reputation deserved. He crafts a tale in a way that his peers must remark at, and fledgling authors like myself come away thinking  Darn it, John. That's how you write stories.

So I must review this book as the reader, so here goes.

Charles Jacobs is an eccentric Reverend, whose sermons veer from apocalyptic warnings to ranting about inconsistencies in The Good Book. Jamie, our hero (of sorts) meets the Good / Bad Reverend when he is aged just six.

Rev C is not just into God - he believes he has the power to see past Death, and Revive it in some way. He believes he can cure an impending death, so when someone gets cancer or a similar disease, out pops the Rev's box of tricks, through which he runs - and controls an electric current.

Most times, this works. Other times, there are horrific consequences to these acts. Throughout, Jamie is the link, thinking he has moved on from the Reverend, but never really taking care of that side of things. 

There's another thread to Revival that I have noticed in other notable King novels, Insomnia, and Mr Mercedes, to name but two. I'll now add Revival to that little-known rock band.

King is in his late sixties now. I'm seeing, and understanding the things he talks about. The three stages of age - youth, middle -age, and you look f****** terrific. I'll do what I can to stay the wrinkles, but I notice more each day. I can relate to what he is saying.

It takes a master like King to make you relate to the characters and yourself whilst you are reading. Usually, I lose myself in a book like this, but on many occasions I had to rest it down and think - "Christ, he's right."

And he is. It makes me see things in a new perspective. His writing is THAT good.

There may be some naysayers who think King fans like myself will automatically rate his books as awesome and flawless story telling. Actually, it is because he is so good, I'm probably harder on him. I'm not a fanboy - I call it like it is. And if I really hated  a book, I would not trash it, I would just move on to something else that I hope I would like. Life's too short to hate, kids.

As the story evolves, we see Jamie grow up, get laid, join a rock band, get old. A lot of the growing pains cliches, you might think - but it is not the case here. Near the book's final act, Jamie's life, and his connection with Jacobs comes full circle. The 'pull' is so great I cannot nor will not reveal it here.

I just felt so happy, because on the first few pages of the book, I knew Stephen King was writing at his best once again. It falls short of Pet Semetary, Misery, It, and The Shining, but it towers above recent efforts Doctor Sleep and Mr Mercedes - which were both good in their own right.

In a nutshell, if you fell out of love with his writing, Revival offers you a perfect way to return. I'm sure in Stephen King's mind, he'd say 'I've been expecting you, anyway.'