Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: "Revival" by Stephen King

"This is how we bring about our own damnation, you know—by ignoring the voice that begs us to stop. To stop while there's still time."

Jamie Morton is a young boy growing up in a small town in Maine in the early 1960s when he meets the new, enigmatic preacher of the main church in town, the Reverend Charlie Jacobs. Charlie and his young wife, Patsy, create quite a stir among churchgoers—many of the boys and men are a bit infatuated with Patsy, and many of the girls and women feel the same about Charlie.

But while Charlie is interested in being the town's spiritual leader, he is also tremendously interested in electricity, and its power (no pun intended) to change lives, to heal. Charlie's burgeoning discoveries in this area are brought to Jamie's attention in an unusual way, and it creates an even stronger bond between the two. Yet when an unspeakable tragedy affects Charlie's life, it causes him to question his faith in a very public way, and he is forced to leave his job and the town.

Charlie is never far from Jamie's mind as he grows into adulthood. Hooked on the guitar at a young age, he becomes a musician, playing with various bands throughout the years but never quite hitting the big time. But after his family faces its own tragedies, the only way he can cope is through heroin. And when he is at rock bottom, he encounters his old friend Charlie, who, through unusual means, sets Jamie's life back on the right path. But this good deed comes with a very hefty price—and Jamie quickly learns that Charlie is far from the man he thought he was.

As Jamie tries to get his life together, he begins to uncover the truth about Charlie's experiments, and the effects on those he purportedly helped. But Charlie now demands more than Jamie's gratitude for all he had done on his behalf—he wants a partner in his final explorations. And these aren't just basic experiments.

Stephen King is back to his usual tricks in Revival, combining your basic everyday people with an evil streak at the dark end of the spectrum. I feel as if in recent years, King's storytelling has gotten even stronger, as he draws you into a story that is interesting on its own, and then makes you wonder exactly what's going to happen. I really liked Jamie's character, and found Charlie to be a complex addition to the pantheon of King villains.

I've read a great deal of King's books through the years, and I tend to enjoy those that deal more with the evils of everyday life than those which touch on the supernatural. This is a bit more of the former than the latter, although the ending, like many of King's books, tended to go a little awry for a time. But it's a really interesting read, one which King fans will truly enjoy.

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