Revival was the first Stephen King novel I’ve read in a while. A long while. But it was worth it. Revival is not a coming-of-age story, but it has elements of that. It’s not a conversion story, but there are deep spiritual lines running through it. It’s not necessarily a story about the vicissitudes of friendship over decades, but that too plays a significant role in the book. The work is, like much of King’s writings, a mix of many themes and character relationships that all join together to tell a wonderful story.I will not recite a plot summary here because you should read it for yourself. But these themes create a wonderful story.
The two main characters, Jamie Morton and Charles Jacobs meet repeatedly time and again in various circumstances and situations throughout the entire book. It is an interesting evolution to watch. Jacobs goes from being a vibrant, youth-loving pastor to an elderly, life-hating semblance of a man. The transition begins when Jacobs loses his wife and young child in a devastating accident. He just as quickly loses his faith and, from there, spirals out of control.
Jacobs’ tailspin leads him to turn his hobby tinkering with electricity into a carnival sideshow and then into a deadly series of experiments. During one of their first meetings after Jacobs left town, Jamie explains that he has a heroine addiction that has taken control of his life. After years as a musician on the road, he feels as if he has no other options. Jacobs uses his electrical “treatment” to cure Jamie of his addiction and, despite the lingering side effects, Jamie feels indebted to Jacobs for the rest of his life.
Although Jacobs cured others of various ailments, there were many who also suffered side effects much more severe than Jamie’s. Many are led to suicide or are made much worse in the process. Even though he knows about these issues, Jacobs continues his experiments with little to no concern for who he hurts along the way. The many casualties of past patients are only steps to attain greater progress in his own search for meaning and power.
Revival is worth reading and is a great example of King’s ability to tell a compelling story and craft a remarkable set of characters. It’s a quick read, and a fun one.