07 December 2014
Revival by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is only my fourth (I think) Stephen King book up to this point, and I wouldn't quite put him up there as an author that I need to rush out and read the moment he releases something, but when I hear that King is doing something Lovecraftian, I think I'll add it to my library hold list. The idea that it's Lovecraftian, however, is both spot on and a little misleading (at least in the modern era), and it's really more a really stark, nihilistic look at mortality that, if it were probably 100-150 pages shorter, might have an opportunity to be a real classic.
The tale is pretty much the life of one person, from his childhood where he met a charismatic-yet-mysterious pastor through middle and old age as the pastor keeps returning to his life in different ways. There's love and loss, drugs, failure, music, Maine, mystery, and a sort of roadshow/spiritual healer sensibility to it that runs throughout until the very end, where everything that has been happening up to that point finally comes together.
It's impossible to fully discuss whether this book fails or succeeds without giving away the ending, and, really, the whole book. While this is clearly a book that is a look at mortality from King's point of view, this is also definitely a Lovecraftian pastiche from start to finish, with the slow burn and seemingly meaningless plot points that come together. I can appreciate what King tried to do here by also noting that, well, it didn't completely work. A short story that spends 3/4 of its time on seemingly meaningless details is one thing, but a horror novel with 400 pages is a different story altogether. The ending pays off, but you have to want to bear with the investment first and I don't know if most readers would stick with it if another name was on the cover.
Overall, I liked the book more than I think the book was good. The whole thing really sticks with me in a few different ways, and if I'm being honest, it's closer to a 3.5 that I couldn't in good conscience recommend to anyone in particular. A lot of books do it better, this does it pretty well.
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