RSS

Revival – Stephen King

05 Jul

Kingy ThingsIn a small New England town, in the early 60s, 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. Soon they forge a deep bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Decades later, Jamie is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Now an addict, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

Stephen King has a knack of managing to take things I have never heard of, little details of life from an America I am not familiar with and weave such into a story that has me appreciating and – bewilderingly – feeling nostalgic for them.

This book has the central motif of music in that respect,  the artists frequently referenced I know almost nothing about, although I have at least heard of some of them.  I can normally invest in these specifics regardless but this one had me feeling that I was missing out on something, as if prior knowledge to this soundtrack would have added much more to the story, which is a feeling I hate as I almost feel compelled to stop and consume each bit of music as it is mentioned.  That said King does make the reader want to take an interest because of his obvious passion for that era of music and that is no bad thing, to appreciate human artistry whatever form it takes.

The plot follows a friendship forged and lost, a chance meeting years later and a clashing of beliefs and electricity, it’s pretty existential in its own way and it will play on the fears of a lot of people when all is said in done.  This makes it more memorable than it would have been were the narrative not backed up with something as speculative and fascinating as it is, that said the imagery of the prose is some of the most memorable I have read in a good while and more than makes up for the flaws in the rest of the story.

Plenty of issues are woven into the story as you would expect, religion and science, loss, grief, damaged people and the need for answers to those questions out of our reach.  As for the horror, it’s more a feeling of dread that simmers just under the surface in the manner of a classic monster horror of years past and King does give some heavy nods to certain authors of more traditional horror origins.  I would advise skipping the dedication page listing authors  who have influenced him, which may give some themes away.

King’s usual writing style which I enjoy with its layered and excellent building of character is here in usual form, going into the customary minute details that allow you to really get to know a character, their history and subsequent motivations.   His creations always have those all to human weaknesses that one can relate to and understand and those important moments in a character’s life that defines them and makes them not only believable but worth investing in and truly caring about.

There are some off-hand references to his other books which will keep long-term fans happy but there is also a distinct lack of peril and suspense, despite a few sinister bits.   A slow build up to the big reveal at the end is the order of the day, there are long periods of life story and wondering about things before the big and truly macabre finale.  Macabre is probably not doing the ending justice which is something I don’t often say about anything, except for films such as the excellent Kill List but that’s another story.  The only gripe I have with the last part of the story is that it did become obvious a little too early what was going on and lacked something in pacing as well, feeling all too rushed.

My initial impressions upon finishing were that It’s a decent book but for King not one of his best, for another writer I would have considered it a good effort but with this author’s back catalogue of books, it is mediocre.   A lot of that comes down to the brisk feeling of the ending and it was also a little flat when it came to the distinct lacking set pieces, which King usually endows with an atmosphere that is genuinely fraught with menace and danger, that stays with you after the book has finished.   Bleak would be an accurate assessment of this one, worth a read if you are after a short diversion but not classic King by any stretch.

Advertisements
 
48 Comments

Posted by on 05/07/2015 in Horror

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

48 responses to “Revival – Stephen King

  1. Purpleanais

    05/07/2015 at 21:19

    Stephen King used to write such compelling books…I still read everything he publishes but the standards have slipped – as you said, this was not one of his best by far.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:29

      Knocking out two books a year is impressive but it does lose something, his earlier works were really good but of late, it is hit and miss sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  2. gargoylebruce

    05/07/2015 at 23:21

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a Stephen King. I should probably select one to add to my list. Any suggestions?

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:50

      Joyland is good about old skool carnivals, The Eyes of the Dragon is a fairytale which may appeal to you as it feels like something from the origins of that pair of Grimm’s, Night Shift is a good selection of short stories and if you are feeling truly epic the 1400 page effort The Stand is a long tale with plenty of misery and death in it brought to you by the End of the World.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

    05/07/2015 at 23:45

    Stephen King builds his characters nicely and I love the way his stories take shape. I haven’t read this one though it sounds quite interesting from your review…:-)

    Haven you read King’s “It” ? Go for it if you have time..it’s a huge book but I enjoyed it very much… 🙂

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:32

      I haven’t, although I did see the two parter that was on TV years ago which was very good. I read all 1400 pages of The Stand which was a really good read, this one has its merits but it’s best to go in to it not expecting his best. I do own IT so will hjave to read it when I get a moment…or a few weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  4. Chelsea Brown

    06/07/2015 at 01:56

    Film adaptations of Mr King’s horror books always made me want to steer clear, for I am not very big on horror. However, reading your post has intriguing my curiosity, though you do not consider Revival to be a classic SK read. I shall seek out a classic SK book and give it a read.
    Perhaps his writing can teach this aspiring author a thing or two.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:52

      Well he certainly has a good selection of good ones, Joyland isn’t horror, neither is The Eyes of the Dragon which are both good reads. I loved Stand By Me when I watched it which for me is King’s screen pinnacle and the book that’s in called Different Seasons is another great read. Even the bad authors have something to teach us and I like to think that reading is good research, now I just need to get paid for my researching…

      Like

       
      • Chelsea Brown

        07/07/2015 at 03:49

        Excellent list of recommendations I enjoyed stand by me as well, and I guess that is very true even the bad authors can teach us. I agree reading is always good research and it would be excellent if we were paid for our researching. I feel like you’d especially make some good coin for all of your research. 😉

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          09/07/2015 at 07:57

          All the money I made would go on funding bookshelves and books, I would be ironically poor because of it haha. Apparently people who read are less stressed according to some science thing I skim read because you can’t walk and read on your phone at the same time I have painfully found out. The same goes for writing I would assume, I think that’s probably the reason why there is so much strife in the world, people don’t create enough or appreciate somebody else’s art.

          Like

           
  5. Lucy

    06/07/2015 at 07:43

    I like your thought about Stephen King making things feel nostalgic, even for those who weren’t around at the the time, or have ever been in that place, or even knew it existed. He has a cosy quality that seems to work so well with horror. I suppose the UK equivalent would be putting some vampires and a freaky clown in to ‘Last of the Summer Wine’

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:34

      well you could bring most of the cast back as the undead and that would actually be worth the license fee, I think you should copyright that idea! its funny how authors can invoke feelings about things that have never been experienced before, it somehow makes me feel more worldly than I really am.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  6. shadowoperator

    06/07/2015 at 14:45

    Well, unfortunately authors are uneven, probably even more the longer they have been successfully writing. Sorry that you were disappointed. I’ve never read even one King novel, but I do have a book of his on writing which looks interesting, whenever I get a chance to read it. I probably would tend to like the novels of his that are less horror-filled and more character- or miracle-oriented. Better luck next time, maybe!

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:38

      The Body is a great read in his book Different Seasons – which also contains The Shawshank Redemption – was a great read and amazingly the film (called Stand By Me) only just fell short of the book which is impressive especially with some of king’s other adaptations to screen have been terrible. On writing is a decent read and if you get the copy with the winning entry in a UK writing competition included then you have a great finale to the book.

      Like

       
      • shadowoperator

        07/07/2015 at 17:47

        Though I haven’t seen “Stand By Me,” I have seen “The Shawshank Redemption,” and thought it was great. I didn’t realize it had started out as a King novel. I’m not sure whether my edition of “On Writing” has the UK essay or not, but I’ll keep an eye out for it.

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          09/07/2015 at 07:49

          I’m sure there will be a PDF of it online, which I don’t usually advocate as I love my traditional books but it is a good story especially for anybody who knows the joys of retail and you have already got the book so no piracy is really involved , if that dort of things is a gripe.

          Like

           
  7. LuAnn

    06/07/2015 at 15:40

    I was one to hang on every word that King wrote but the last couple of his books that I have read have left me wanting more.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 20:00

      Apart from Joyland, Revival and that Dark Tower book he did, I haven’t read any of the other books he wrote since 2006, I need to get my read on more methinks but how do you pick one of his books let alone pick one of his over all the other good books out there…ah the problems of a reader!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  8. Letizia

    06/07/2015 at 17:02

    I’m a King fan but haven’t read this one. The last one I read was 11/22/63 in fact. I’m a bit behind. His books are hit or miss I find but that’s normal when one is so prolific most likely.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:39

      when he’s good he really is good and that is what keeps me reading but I tend not to be on top of his works, if i pick up a new one it is usually because my Christmas list needs something on it so I don’t seem like a miserable hermit, although having never been in the same room as a miserable hermit, we could in fact be the same person.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Letizia

        06/07/2015 at 21:06

        Perhaps just a happy hermit. One who likes to read. Oh wait, is that me?

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          09/07/2015 at 08:17

          It is the best way to be, I have spent the last week or so hardly reading anything and I have seriously considered building a shack in the forest and only coming out when discovered by an Arthurian knight, so I will need a suitcase of books to pass the time. You would be welcome in my hole in the ground because I am nice like, bring potatoes though, it’s just what you do with hermits or so the rumour goes.

          Like

           
          • Letizia

            09/07/2015 at 17:15

            I am stocking up on potatoes. I will bring some beer as well. And tomatoes as I like those.

            Like

             
            • Ste J

              10/07/2015 at 08:22

              I think that pretty much sorts us, the weather better hold up now or I will be shaking my fist at it.

              Liked by 1 person

               
  9. readinpleasure

    06/07/2015 at 18:01

    As usual a candid and excellent review, Ste J. I used to read King in a distant past but somehow I lost interest in ‘morbid thrillers/horrors. 🙂

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:46

      He is pretty morbid lol, this book is not an exception but rather an underlining of that.

      Like

       
  10. Sheila

    06/07/2015 at 19:27

    I also love that nostalgic feel he does so well for time periods I haven’t lived through. In books like 11/22/63, he makes you feel as if you have lived through it by the end. I’ll have to take a look at this one. I don’t usually like some of his more violent novels, but this sounds intriguing with the electricity and science and religion woven into it.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      06/07/2015 at 19:41

      This is one of the less violent novels, there is always that undercurrent in his works, that darkness brooding which I think we just assume is there no matter if it actually is or not. I found Joyland to be a wonderful evoking of a bygone era that made me want to be there and to experience it. I haven’t gotten around to 11/22/63 yet and wasn’t initially keen but as i have heard good things, I may have to go have a read.

      Like

       
  11. Aquileana

    10/07/2015 at 00:04

    Great overview and such an intriguing plot…. I am now thinking of a quote by Stephen King which I really like: “‘Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win”/// I bet Sigmund Freud would be nodding in agreement! …. o_O
    All my best wishes, dear Ste! Aquileana ⭐

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      10/07/2015 at 08:35

      What an unsettling quote, lol. he also said something about know there is nothing hiding under the bed but he won’t allow his foot to stick out at night, just in case. I do the same thing.

      Like

       
  12. clarepooley33

    10/07/2015 at 00:31

    I love reading your reviews even if like this one, I won’t be reading the book. King has never appealed to me mainly because I never read horror or violent books if I can help it. My eldest daughter loves horror in all its forms and has a wordpress blog in which she does horror film reviews. Can’t remember what it’s called unfortunately.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      10/07/2015 at 08:10

      One day I am determined to intrigue you enough to pick up such a book, I consider it a challenge that will hopefully better my writing but one I won’t mind if I don’t win. I have plenty more varied books coming up as you’d expect including one that has been challenging me to describe for a while now. I am always in the market for a good horror film, ehat can I say, I like my bit of grim haha.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • clarepooley33

        10/07/2015 at 10:38

        I think you’ll have your work cut out to persuade me to read any kind of horror book!!

        Like

         
  13. Seyi sandra

    10/07/2015 at 13:05

    I think all writers dread the watering down of their stories. It’s like Michael Jackson, after ‘Thriller,’ it was difficult for him to make an album to rival it. I love King’s books, I haven’t read this one though, I’ll get to it. I like your taste in books, you read almost anything… almost! 🙂 🙂

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      11/07/2015 at 19:43

      Haha, yes I do have my limits but if you can catch me on a day where I am happy to accept many free drinks (so anytime really) I can be persuaded to read and review pretty much anything. I’ll keep stacking up the books for you to read because I am nice like that and possibly one of the only public services not cut back on! I hope King comes up with one of his best again soon, something so unexpected it impresses everybody.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Seyi sandra

        13/07/2015 at 14:04

        I hope one day we could meet and have a drink, I’ll love that very much. Who knows, we might even work together in the future. I have a project going that could facilitate that soon! And it comes with some great perks😀. Please, do draw up a new list for me as time permits, I’ve been working through the last one. Take care of yourself old friend and have a fantastic week!

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          13/07/2015 at 18:21

          I know we will meet up one day and have a drink my friend and to work together is an intriguing prospect that I would definitely be up for. Do tell about your project in an email if you wish, I am a sucker for perks which is something you didn’t know about me. A new list! I am impressed that you have been tackling the last one and I would very much like to hear your thoughts on those books as well. The week is looking up now and I hope yours is wonderful also.

          Liked by 1 person

           
          • Seyi sandra

            21/07/2015 at 18:33

            Hey Ste J, apologies for the late reply, really caught up with work. I’ll send you an email and let you know the few details. I want everything perfected first and then things could really be on a roll. I’ll let you know how far I’ve gone as per the list. I realise that as a writer, reading other people’s work is essential, besides, I enjoy reading just too little time. Although I do have a problem, which is predicting the end of a story. Then occasionally when I get it wrong, it’s exhilarating.
            Would be over at yours soon and do enjoy the rest of the week!

            Like

             
            • Ste J

              22/07/2015 at 14:54

              It’s okay my friend, send whenever you have a moment, I will check my inbox each day and keep wondering in the mean time, when you said perks, first I thought of a private jet ride but now I have revised that down to a buffet, lol I am a man who is easily pleased. Reading is the best research ever as it’s fun but sadly doesn’t pay expenses. I shall have to seek out some books with a plot twist…or perhaps something clever at the end to surprise you even if you do see the ending coming…or perhaps you should read a Choose Your Own Adventure book!

              Liked by 1 person

               
              • Seyi sandra

                01/08/2015 at 15:26

                Thanks my friend, I sent you an email a day or so ago. There would be perks indeed, who knows, a couple of years down the line, we could be talking about that private jet ride.
                I’ll be expecting a new list soon, and yes, please give me one with a crafty plot twist. Do have a fantastic weekend my friend!

                Like

                 
                • Ste J

                  02/08/2015 at 13:46

                  I am having a change up with my job at the moment, so I may be a little later than planned with that list but I will sort it when i can, thank you for your most exciting email, you should have a Stemail waiting for you. Have a top weekend yourself.

                  Like

                   
  14. Sherri

    10/07/2015 at 18:40

    What a fascinating review of this latest Stephen King novel, thanks for this Ste. At first, I thought, hmmm…must read…but then, as I read on I thought maybe not. I do like morbid horror though and i haven’t read any King for some time…my all-time favourite of his is The Green Mile.

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      11/07/2015 at 19:46

      There will probably be tons in second hand bookshops soon or half price paperback soon so if you are caught short for something to fly through this will be a good choice. The Green Mile was a good book, the way he creates bad guys is brilliant, very effective and chilling, I loved that book and that he did it in instalments first as a nod to Dickens made me very happy.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Sherri

        13/07/2015 at 15:51

        Yes, that was great, I read it when it first came out in the instalments back in the States and couldn’t wait for the next one! And I will be scouring those bookshops…like the one in the photo I sent you 🙂

        Like

         
        • Ste J

          13/07/2015 at 18:38

          Nothing beats a day in the bookshops, scouring knowing you won’t go home empty ended no matter what. I would have loved to have read the King books as they came out and given my feedback real time, I would have done so with a top hat, just like in Dickensian times.

          Like

           
  15. Andrea Stephenson

    11/07/2015 at 21:50

    I’ve been a long term Stephen King reader – when I read a King novel I always feel comforted – no matter what the story, I’m back in that familiar world of the way he builds his worlds and characters. I recently read Mr Mercedes and though it wasn’t one of my favourites by any means, it gave me that old Stephen King comfort feeling 🙂

    Like

     
    • Ste J

      12/07/2015 at 09:32

      he does have a signature feel to his worlds, it’s always nice to be back experiencing his stories, I think Revival is the only modern one of his books I have read since The wind Through the Keyhole. No matter what he writes though I do find myself picking up his books still, he is right to refer to his readers as constant companions in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

       

Tell me stuff...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: