What to say, what to say. This entire book was awesome. There were some minor flow/logic issues here and there, but not enough for me to remove any stars from the review.
Told over decades, Revival, follows Jamie Morton from the time he was a small boy to when he is a 50 plus year old man telling about how his life and his small town was changed when the new minister, Charles Jacobs comes to their town in Maine. When we first meet Jamie Morton he is a boy at happy in his world. With a loving mother and father, and several brothers and a sister, Jamie is content. And everything for a time in the small town seems to be okay. Reverend Jacobs seems to be a bit odd with his obsession with electricity. However, other than that, the whole time has embraced him, his beautiful wife, and his young son. When a horrible accident reveals the ugly side to life, Reverend Jacobs loses his faith and leaves behind a splintered community who recall him denouncing God and those who have faith.
Told in the first person, we get to see the changes in the character of Jamie Morton from a small boy to an older man who has seen too much and done too little. I would never have guessed this character's trajectory at all in the course of this story and the way that King wrote it, it seems so believable. Jamie who seemed to be smart and have a good head on his shoulders from his teen years, ends up being half a man when he runs into the former reverend again who is now working carnival shows. I felt sympathy, pity, and frustration with this character through the course of this story. At one point I wanted to ask him was he super crazy to even be anywhere near Reverend Jacobs when he got older and even more crazed about electricity. I know at one point Jamie quotes human curiosity as the reason that he became so fixated on the former Reverend, but I had more of a pragmatic approach myself. I am not going to go hang out with some guy who can make electricity just happen without it being plugged in. That's just me though.
What makes Revival so engrossing though is that you also feel sympathy for the character of Reverend Jacobs. At least I did. To go from preaching about God, how he always a has a plan, and then to losing your wife and child in a horrific accident. Of course the man went a little crazy. However, he goes from sympathetic to downright evil in the course of about 50 years. For a man who cared about those around him, to just seeing people near him as potential experiments, I for one didn't know what end was coming for the Reverend, but told myself I wasn't going to be sad about it.
Other characters in this story are written so well. I loved all of the tidbits we find out about Jamie's life, his parents, his first love, and the friends he made.
The overall plot at times seemed to not be connected to the changes going on with Jamie, but I think that King managed to tie them all together very well. To me Revival was a tale of two men that we got to know through Jamie Morton's retelling of his life.
The writing is classic King (is that a thing?) and I thought that everything worked. I swear he is able to write children in the best of ways and I have missed that with his later works. This is probably why even though It still scares the crap out of me, it is still one of my favorite Stephen King books. There are also clever callbacks to The Dark Tower series, the Castle Rock series, Jerusalem's Lot, Under the Dome, Insomnia, and The Green Mile. Someone mentioned in one of my updates that there is a callback to Joyland as well, however I didn't read that book so I have no idea.
I had a fun discussion with a friend about this book (he read and loved) and we both came up with the idea that this world that Jamie Morton inhabits is another world (we all know how King loves his different worlds) just because of the Jerusalem Lot mention and no mention of the things that happened there (don't worry didn't want to spoil for those who haven't read it yet) and we both thought that Jamie would have mentioned it more in the story.
The flow as I said did get a little bit messed up here and there. I think that was only because some things weren't explained here and there and then they were it was a bit confusing about what happened. I had to go back a few pages a couple of times because I had missed something because the writing would jump around.
The setting of this fictional Maine town that lies near Castle Rock (the setting of many King stories) felt real to me. What was crazy, was that anytime that Jamie was not near his hometown, the places and people he meets don't feel real. I think that's because King has the fictional and real Maine in his head to such an extent he is able to make it come alive for readers. You feel as if you could find the Morton house if you decided to go for a drive near Castle Rock.
The ending was powerful and frightening. I don't know what it means. If what Jamie has seen and been a part of was something that will befall all, no matter what they do, or if we are given room to hope for something more.