Review: Revival –by Stephen King

Revival by Stephen KingI’m a lapsed Stephen King fan. I read The Stand and Cujo and The Dead Zone when I was young but found Misery and The Shining too frightening. When I was looking for reading material for my vacation, I grabbed a Grisham and a King (Revival) and wondered at the time if the latter was a mistake.

It wasn’t. I enjoyed Revival no end. Jamie Morton, the hero, reminded me of the sweet-natured hero of The Dead Zone and he ends up carrying a similarly heavy burden, though it isn’t second sight. The story chronicles his life from childhood to the present, and the conclusion is both uncomfortable and thought-provoking. I had a hard time putting the book down, even though I was on a cruise, with plenty of distraction.

Jamie comes from a large happy family in (where else?) New England. Tragedy strikes, and in his late teens and twenties he has trouble dealing with it, and becomes a junkie. He’s saved by the minister from his home town, a man who lost his family early and has been on a quest to find a new source of electricity ever since, a source that can both heal and cure.

Working the religious carny circuit, the minister learns how to harness this power, and cures Jamie of his addiction, and others of assorted ailments and diseases. But he also extracts a pledge from Jamie, and compels him to honor it in a scene that has much of the horror that we associate with Stephen King.

Revival is a super read and I’m now a renewed King fan, with plenty of catching up to do.

My rating: 4 stars

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Books I’ve been reading

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I may be a little stingy with the stars for this story, and that could be because I did some long-distance walking myself once, and found myself questioning one or two details of Harold’s walk. But that’s really a side issue. It’s a nice story, some of the descriptive passages about the English countryside were very good and my favorite part was actually the last section about Queenie. But overall, I don’t know, I found something a little contrived about it.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fine piece of writing, the story of two fifteen-year-old boys over two years of their lives. Introvert Ari, the narrator, and extrovert Dante meet at the swimming pool one El Paso summer and become friends. Ari battles not being able to talk to his dad and resentment that no one will talk to him about his older brother, serving time. Dante seems to have no problems.

The friendship strengthens and survives separation as Dante moves north with his family for a year.

The families are strong in this book and I liked both of them. The boys are loved and supported and Ari’s first-person point of view is completely plausible. This is another in the growing list of Young Adult novels that can be read and enjoyed by anyone.


Mary Stewart: A Fine Old Storyteller

The Moonspinners/Nine Coaches Waiting/The Ivy Tree/Madam, Will You Talk?The Moonspinners/Nine Coaches Waiting/The Ivy Tree/Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed all Mary Stewart’s early books, and some of her historical novels. She had a deceptively simple style that pulled you in and allowed her to work quite effectively on your emotions, while being light and literate and entertaining. My favourite of all her books was always Madam Will You Talk?. It was probably the first one I read and I loved the lazy sidekick and the small boy (like her heroines I’ve always had a soft spot for small boys) and the car chase. But all the books in this edition are good, as I recall, and I plan to revisit them this summer.

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I was surprised to read of Mary Stewart’s death–I guess because I thought she’d died years ago. But she lived to a fine old age (97), and I hope she enjoyed her books as much as her audience did.