Tablet Life & Arts

Book review: ‘Revival’

Stephen King’s Revival crackles with the question the human race has asked itself for centuries: Is there life after death?

A page-turning tug-of-war between reformed rocker Jamie Morton and man of faith Charles Jacobs, Revival (King’s second novel this year after spring’s Mr. Mercedes) fuses human drama with supernatural horror. As has become King’s wont over the past decade, much of the tale wrestles with the idea of mortality.

The 67-year-old author has found the sweetness in aging, although his reflections upon growing older are always tinged with a little sadness and fear.

Morton first crosses paths with Jacobs in the former’s youth during the early ’60s, and after a gruesome turn of events leaves Jacobs’ faith shattered, the men’s lives weave themselves together in unexpected ways over the ensuing decades. Revival realizes Morton more fully than Jacobs, somewhat robbing the nightmarish climax of emotional power.

But along the way, King ponders some profound questions, such as the role fate plays in each of our lives.

If we could change the most awful things we experience in a lifetime, would we? Should we?

These concepts give Revival a satisfying weight, despite its relative (for King, anyway) brevity at 416 pages. Briskly paced and sharply observed, it’s one of King’s strongest outings in years, a spiritual sequel of sorts to 2011’s unwieldy 11/22/63.

Wondering what lies beyond death is a tantalizing — and in King’s capable hands, terrifying — proposition.

REVIVAL

by Stephen King

Scribner, $29.99

* * * * 

Audiobook: Simon & Schuster Audio, $24.49; narrated by actor David Morse.

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