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Revival: A Novel Hardcover – November 11, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 5,365 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2014: How does Stephen King do it? In book after book, writing long (Under the Dome, 11/22/63) or short (Joyland) he manages, nearly always, to tell a compelling story that is both entertaining and somehow profound, or at least thoughtful. His latest, Revival, is vintage King. It’s the perfect mix of baby boomer nostalgia (think Stand By Me) – this guy remembers the 60s with details you usually can only find in photographs – and good old American horror, the kind that was first elevated by such minor writers as, say, Poe and Hawthorne. The story here centers on a reverend who comes to a New England town, befriends and mentors a young boy, and then goes wild with grief when his family dies in an accident; he gives a blasphemous sermon and is, basically, run out of town. Cut to: a couple decades later, when the boy, now a junkie, meets up by chance with the disgraced clergyman, and they form another disturbing relationship. Reverend Jacobs, it turns out, was always more complicated than the stereotypical man of God – he is fascinated by electricity, by science – and pretty demonic, too. How he and Jamie find and fight each other over their lifetimes is as shocking and inevitable as the explosive and, yes, horrorish, climax of the book. Never mind that King’s prose can sometimes lapse into laughable cliché – “like water through a sieve”? Really? – there is absolutely no better storyteller than Stephen King, who keeps us up at night, with fear and fascination and admiration. –Sara Nelson

Review

“Spellbinding…King is a master at invoking the supernatural through the powerful emotions of his characters, and his depiction of Jacobs as a man unhinged by grief but driven by insatiable scientific curiosity is as believable as it is frightening. The novel’s ending – one of King’s best – stuns like lightning.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“King continues to point out the unspeakably spooky weirdness that lies on the fringes of ordinary life… No one does psychological terror better than King. Another spine-tingling pleasure for his fans.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“King fans won’t find anything to complain about here. At just over 400 pages it’s one of his quicker reads and any hint of the supernatural is blended with tender moments that ground the characters….If this is your first King novel, it’s not a bad choice. You don’t need to know anything about his oeuvre coming in, and if you like the writing style, there are dozens of other King books you’ll probably enjoy.” (Associated Press)

Revival finds King writing with the infectious glee that has always been at the heart of his popular success… Older and wiser each time he writes, Mr. King has moved on from the physical fear that haunted him after he was struck by a van while out walking to a more metaphysical, universal terror. He writes about things so inevitable that he speaks to us all.” (The New York Times)

“Stephen King’s splendid new novel offers the atavistic pleasure of drawing closer to a campfire in the dark to hear a tale recounted by someone who knows exactly how to make every listener’s flesh crawl." (Washington Post)

Revival is dark, disquieting and pretty horrifying, revealing a mind (the narrator’s, for sure; King’s, perhaps) searching for answers to life’s age-old questions about life and death.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Revival is among King’s very best…tender, moving and terrifying.” (New York Daily News)

“Worshippers at the Universal Church of Stephen King have a lot to rejoice about with his latest literary sermon. Revival is a dark and haunting tale about old-time religion and one man's search for a mythic ‘secret electricity.’ At the same time it's an emotional and spectacular coming-of-age tale that spans 50 years of horrific tragedy and human redemption… Revival is often heartfelt, as characters deal with painful loss, and the author invests you wholly in the separate journeys of Jamie and Charlie as they arrive at their inevitable crossroads and a voltaic endgame. Say hallelujah, for the King has risen to the occasion once again.” (USA Today)

“This is King’s darkest novel in quite a while… King retains his aw-shucks accessibility and writes about addiction and shattered bones with the insight of personal experience… Revival is a wrestling match between faith and science, and watching King throw himself into that eternal theological debate within the context of a horror novel is fascinating. This is the sort of book he couldn’t have written when he was younger; it’s the work of someone who has lived a long life and experienced its highs and lows.” (Miami Herald)

“It’s a good, scary story, but it’s so much more. Every page is a treasure trove of detail about daily life in America, in the 1960s or whatever decade King’s story lights on. There are tiny stories within stories, and headlines, road signs, soapsuds, state fairs, storefronts … It’s pure poetry.” (Raleigh News and Observer)

Revival is easily his best work in years…fresh…an excellent, simply written story…filled with suspense and curiosity, it’s a one-day read for King fans.” (Boston Herald)

“As with most of his work Mr. King excels at capturing the small moments of the real world, the things that are human and common to everyone. This is a world we all know and recognize. It makes the darkness that lies just beyond our perception seem more real as well.” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

“All of the elements that have made King the preeminent American horror author come alive in this ultra-creepy tale of love, loss, evil and electricity…. Riveting.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Revival buzzes with allusions to horror classics….Revival gives familiar themes—the relationship between science and religion, the fine line between grief and madness—new power. It’s King in electrifyingly fine form.” (Tampa Bay Times)

“As the Kingian references pile up, and become layered into the events of the fictional world, you fall deeper and deeper under the story’s spell, almost believing that Jamie’s nightmarish experiences actually happened…reading Revival is experiencing a master storyteller having the time of his life. All of his favorite elements are at play – small town Maine, the supernatural, the evil genius, the obsessive addict, the power of belief to transform a life…it is fun to map it all out, to experience King’s mind at work.” (New York Times Book Review)

“A fresh adrenaline rush of terror from Stephen King…Maine, rock and roll, engaging characters and a pounding build to a grisly end – this is vintage King.” (People)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (November 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476770387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476770383
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5,365 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2014
Format: Audible Audio Edition
Finally, a return to the form of Stephen King we've been waiting for. Or at least I was - I'm one of those annoying Stephen King fans who says "nothing's as good as his first five books, blah blah" like I'm expecting everyone to stay the same writer they were at 65 as they were at 35.

The dustjacket promises King's "most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written," and that's a bold claim to make - especially when stacked up against "Pet Sematery" or "Salem's Lot." I'm not sure I would call the conclusion 'terrifying,' but I would absolutely call it dreadful - with a capital D.

But I will avoid even the hint of spoilers to say what worked.

First and foremost - the overall editing is very tight, very controlled and on-point. I felt like a few of his recent books were overwritten and bloated; they looked good on a bookshelf maybe, but at 700+ pages the stories just went on so long. And there's a point where the tension fades away too much, and the reader is waiting for the next event to occur. For a thriller/horror that's not what I want as a reader.

Here, in about 400 pages, the story always connects together. There were never any long lulls of boring exposition and mundane diversions. Everything matters to the story, and keeps the flow of the action moving.

The story's overall villain may or may not be who you expect. What matters is that the motivations and reasonings behind various decisions makes sense - nobody behaves in a way that I feel like cheats the reader or jumps to an unearned conclusion or revelation.
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Length: 417 pages.

UPDATED December 15, 2014:

I had the great good fortune to read an advance copy of The Evil Hours, a biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's an outstanding nonfiction book about PTSDS, but what struck me most was the similarity of the victims of PTSD and Stephen King's writing of several of the characters in Revival, in their side effects following their 'miraculous cures.

My point is this: we all know King, just as does any respectable author, a good deal of research before writing. In Revival, it is obvious King researched certain aspects, which also served as a premise utilized by Lovecraft.

What is not so readily deduced is the, at least I think, research King did in regards to PTSD and how well he slipped it into this story. In my opinion, this is masterfully done. Why? Because he never refers to it as PTSD, and nevers draws any parallels with combat veterans. Yet, I now am certain, he discussed the issue with either victims, medical staff, or VA counsellors.

Therefore, I encourage readers to read Revival AND to read The Evil Hours when it becomes available January 26, 2015.
There are four Stephen Kings.

1 Nonfiction Stephen King. This is probably the Stephen King I like most. When he introduces a novel, or writes about himself, or On Writing, he connects with me in some deep ancestral recess hidden from entry by most anybody.

2 Phone it in Stephen King writes novels that are better than 90 percent of all the writers out there, but that seem to be just rehashes of other stories or that just didn't seem worthy of the master.

3 Milkman Stephen King.
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I really liked the plot of this book right up until the ending. Then once again, instead of doing something really amazing with the story, Stephen King gave it a weird improbable stupid "out there" sequence. I don't know why he ruins so many books this way. I gave up reading him once for this reason, I guess I will have to give up again. The plot at first was very engaging and I couldn't wait to see what happened next and then, he ruined it all. Too bad.
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Man, I really wanted to love this book - it has a lot going for it. As is the case for most Stephen King books the characters are well developed, "whole cloth" folks and the central idea is a fascinating philosophical piece on the nature of belief, loss, and the realities of faith.

NOW FOR SPOILERS:
My big problem with this novel is that I was WAY MORE interested in the Jacob's character then the idiotic borderline-stupid protagonist. I mean, he spends half the book just talking about his rock and roll career that amounts to absolutely nothing but a run of the mill heroin addiction. Meanwhile Jacob's is out there harnessing the power of the universe with crazy awesome sounding inventions! It's like picking up a book hoping it'll be about Nikola Tesla but it turns out it's about Tesla's cleaning lady, from her point of view, where she meets Tesla like 5 times and each time she's like "Hey, Tesla, why can't you be nicer? I know you're cool and you seem to make cool stuff but why can't you be like, nicer?".

ALSO - the protagonist's petty moralizing is just grating and annoying. Jacob's makes his point eloquently: If a doctor had only a 3% failure rate they'd be lauded as an AMAZING HEALER. Can you imagine if the protagonist was going up to the worlds most famous cardiovascular surgeon's house over and over and just repeating "Yeah, but what about that one guy who died? Huh? What about that guy that died? Don't you feel bad about that?". This is literally what the main character does like THREE TIMES in this book.

On top of that, Jacob's reveals later in the novel that he's built a generator capable of powering the entire western seaboard with no waste and no fuel required.
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