Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: Revival

Stephen King

In the 1960s, young Jamie Morton becomes friends with Rev. Charles Jacobs, the new Methodist minister in the little town of Harlowe, Maine. Rev. Jacobs is no ordinary reverend. He has a rather fascinating hobby—the study of electricity and its applications, which he carries out in his garage. In addition to tinkering with electronics and building a mechanical model town, one of his more impressive achievements is using low voltage electricity to heal Jamie’s brother, who lost his voice in an accident. But, alas, Rev. Jacobs can’t heal everything. Soon after he heals Jamie’s brother, he gets word that his wife and son have both been killed in a horrific car accident. In response, he angrily denounces God and religion to his mortified congregation, and consequently loses both his job and his place in the community. After he leaves town, Jamie Morton fears he will never see his friend again, but Fate, it seems, has other plans. Throughout the rest of Jamie’s life, the two keep running into each other in the strangest of circumstances. Although Jamie grows up to become a wash-out musician, his personality and occupation pretty much remain the same. Jacobs, however, turns out to be a chameleon. The first time the two run into each other is at the fairgrounds, where Jacobs is working as a maker of magical “Lightning Portraits.” Years after that, they meet again. This time, Jacobs has once again taken up the mantle of religion, and is now “healing” people at revivals. At their third and last meeting, Jacobs is a wealthy, reclusive old man who tells Jamie a secret: ever since the deaths of his wife and son, he has been pursuing potestas magnum universum, “the force that powers the universe,” which he believes can be harvested through lightning strikes. He then proposes an outrageous experiment: once he has harnessed this energy, he will use it to look beyond death, into the afterlife. Unfortunately for both of them, the consequences of the experiment turn out to be more terrifying than anyone can imagine.
As someone who deeply disliked King’s last novel, Joyland, I can happily report that the author gets back on track in this latest offering. Revival is essentially a Frankenstein story that builds on Mary Shelley’s premise: one man defies God. How does he do it, and what are the consequences? If you’re already a Stephen King fan, or simply enjoy slow, ponderous pieces with plenty of creep factor, I will definitely recommend trying out Revival.

Liz Winn
Microforms/Government Documents
Central Library

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