Hey everyone! I’m here today with my first book review on this site. This week, I will be reviewing Revival by Stephen King.
Warning: This review may contain detailed plot spoilers. The book itself is also rather dark, and may be unsuitable for some. Although I am omitting some of the darker aspects of the novel, reader discretion is strongly advised.
If you want to see ONLY my brief opinions on the book, scroll to the very bottom.
Synopsis (Posted on stephenking.com):
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 13, 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 thatrevival 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.
ALRIGHT! Let’s jump right in.
Now, this book is pretty long. 405 pages in not a short book by any means.
Here are the most important plot points of the story-
The book opens with a boy by the name of Jamie Morton who has just turned six. For his birthday, his sister gave him a plastic army play set. A few pages into the book quickly establish that Jamie lives with his parents, an older sister named Claire, who is the oldest of his four siblings, a brother named Terry who is two years older than Jamie, a brother named Con who is four years older than Jamie, and a brother named Andy whose age is not specified (although it is clear that he is somewhere between Claire and Con). While playing with his toys, Jamie meets the new minister of his town, Charles Daniel Jacobs. Charlie (his nick name) is married and has a young son. Charlie and Jamie have a similar interest in the powers of electricity.
A few years later, Con loses his voice in a skiing accident. Charlie heals him using a invention that he created.
Shortly after, Charlie’s wife and son are horribly disfigured in a car crash, and die from their injuries. Charlie precedes to give a “Terrible Sermon” at church. It is full of blasphemy, and Charle seems to have come to the conclusion that God does not exist, due to the fact that his wife and son were not saved. Jamie, who is nine at the time, absorbs every word of it, and loses his faith as well. Charlie is kicked out of town, and he disappears.
Jamie eventually goes to high school, finding out he has amazing guitar abilities. He plays in a band, and meets his first girlfriend Astrid, and life seems good.
Around page 197, the timeline jumps to when Jamie is 36- alone and addicted to drugs. He eventually meets Charlie again, and realizes that Charlie still experiments with what he calls “Secret electricity.” Charlie cures Jamie of his drug addiction. (At this point, I realized it would have been cool if Jamie’s name was John. You may or may not get the very vague and subtle reference to the TV show Lost here).
Personally, I thought the first 250 pages or so were good. After Jamie is cured, I feel the book becomes somewhat boring until the last 75 pages or so.
Basically, Charlie learns that he can heal people with his secret electricity, and he goes around the country doing just that. He claims that God is healing the people, not him, but he, Jamie, and Hugh (another man who is cured by Charlie and gives Jamie a job) know that Charlie does not really believe in God, he is just using God’s supposed power so that people do not question what Charlie has discovered.
There is one important connection to these healings- many of the people suffer afteraffects. Jamie has a tendency to stab himself with random objects muttering “Something happened.” He also has strange dreams where his dead family members come to life and speak to him. Hugh has what he calls “prismatics” where he catches a strange glimpse of “what is beyond this world.” Some people eat dirt, others go insane.
Eventually, everyone in Jamie’s family except for Con and Terry die from one way or another. Claire is murdered by her husband. Jamie’s mother has cancer. Andy and his dad die from other medical conditions.
Charlie eventually convinces Jamie to help him. How? Well, Jamie’s old childhood sweetheart Astrid has been addicted to cigarettes and is on the verge of death.
Note: from here, the book gets pretty disturbing. Now is your last chance to turn back.
Still here? Alright.
Well, Charlie uses his secret electricity on Astrid, and something happened.
Astrid..awakens. She starts saying something about a door in the wall, covered in ivy. Astrid says this: “She waits on the other side, above the broken city. Above the broken sky.”
Astrid is healed, but nobody can explain exactly what she saw.
Later, Charlie has a task for Jamie.
The two of them go to the top of a mountain where Charlie used to work and where Jamie had grown up.
There, Charlie has the dead body of a woman named Mary Fay. Using his secret electricity, the two attempt to literally bring the woman back from the dead.
It works…kind of. A entity called “Mother” (what Astrid saw beyond the door) comes through the door that has been broken- the door of death. The…thing grabs Charlie and Jamie, and shows them a vision.
The vision is basically the land of the dead. I’m not going to explain it in depth, but basically these weird ant things are forcing humans to parade around as slaves. Apparently the whole living world is an illusion and this is the real world. Giant ants and human slaves. Oh, and apparently there are some insane and sadistic “gods” besides Mother in the sky. Mother tries to come through, and Jamie shoots the living-dead Mary Fay to her second death.
Charlie is also killed by a stroke.
After, almost all of the people he healed go crazy and kill their families or lovers, as well as themselves. Hugh, Astrid, and many more. Jamie doesn’t kill himself, but he does lose bits of his memory.
Obviously, I really mellowed down the ending. It is much more graphic and disturbing than I put it.
Overall, I liked the characters. They were not too similar, and each had a different story or experience that set them apart. They had a certain degree of depth and development. The important characters had more, the side characters had slightly less depth, but only a few characters had a lot of development.
The plot, on the other hand, was not one of my favorites. I felt that much of the middle portion of the book was unimportant, kind of boring, and a little forgettable. It was also pretty slow.
I felt that both the beginning and ending were strong. The ending especially keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.
This is the ONLY Stephen King book that has creeped me out. Cujo, The Shining, Carrie…I felt that this was the most disturbing one of the lot.
I would rate this book a solid 4 and a half stars. Without the ending, it would have been 3 and a half in all honesty. That was my favorite part.
I would give this book an age rating of 14 years+ due to frequent profanity and some darker themes.
I just finished writing a 14 hundred word book review that was more of a plot summary than a review…haha.
In the future, it is likely that I will write more about my personal opinions of the book. Due to the fact that this book was such a long one, I tried a slightly different approach.
So, do you guys like a more explanatory and plot-detail review or do you want a more opinion-full review with a chapter by chapter breakdown? For my next review, I think I will try the latter.
Comment what you thought of this book, what kind of reviews you would like to see, and if you want be to review a specific book! (But please, make it something logical for a teenager to read..I don’t feel like reading War and Peace and other books like that yet).