Stephen King has a big bibliography, and most people have at least heard of a couple of his books, if not having seen a film adaptation or read them. He has a reputation of being a master of our day and age as an author, for generally terrifying and mesmerising works such as Carrie, The Shining, It and Misery to name his most famous.
I wish I could say the same for the newest addition to the Stephen King bibliography. Revival, his new book, is something of a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story focusing on a boy called Jamie and fifty year of his life. Dealing with life, love, drug addiction and a couple of encounters with a man who made an impression on the protagonist as a boy, it seems like a run-of-the-mill narrative. And for me, that’s all it was.
When someone has been writing for as long as Stephen King has, the average reader has expectations. Having read both Carrie and Misery before Revival and of course his almost universal reputation as a master of horror and of literature in general, I had high expectations. At first they held – the opening of comparing people’s lives to films was one of the strongest I had ever read, but sadly, it seemed to go downhill from there. I managed to read the first hundred pages or so without a problem, but then it was strangely difficult to get back into the book.
With a book, characters are often what readers get attached to the most; but none of the characters were truly likeable. The protagonist was cynical of everything, especially with Jacobs’ ‘magical’ power that involved electricity, and there was no one really to warm up to. Revival reminded me of Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – it had promised potential, but it did not deliver as well as it could have done. King’s reputation is of a horror writer and those looking for a new horror novel might be looking at the wrong book, even though it has been classed as ‘horror fiction’.
I will say, despite the negativity, it was a solid book and almost certainly one for the fans. Revival is not bad by any means, but it is not outstanding. It is simply an okay addition to the long list of Stephen King books out there.