I finished reading Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply two weeks…
As with almost all Stephen King novels, the characters are way more scary than the supernatural elements, and this holds true in Revival, even though this book wasn’t as strong as King’s others.
Jamie Morton’s life changed the day he met Pastor Charles Jacobs, at first for good, but when a tragic event transforms Pastor Jacobs thoughts on religion and god, Jamie starts questioning everything and it all goes downhill. Jacobs leaves town and the older Jamie gets he descends into addiction. When these two meet up many years later, Jamie wants answers, but what he finds are even more questions. Jacobs leads religious tent revivals around the country and he is obsessed with electricity and the afterlife. Claiming that electricity is the key, Jacobs takes Jamie down a fanatical path that leads somewhere far different than they hoped.
There are a lot of philosophical questions about death, grief, and the afterlife that drive this story, and this examination was what I really liked about the book. Reading about the religious zealots and the frenzied paranoia about the afterlife was solid and where King really shines, but some of this really felt drawn out. King did a great job showing the downfall of Jacobs and Jamie, and the building dread that leads to the end of the book works, but there’s just too much unnecessary stuff that really bogged down the momentum of the story. There’s a lot of blah, blah, blah that interrupted the building dread and slowed this down, so you could feel the dread, but it never got to that scary, heart-pumping point. By the time we got to the ending (the stupid ending), I was just ready for the story to be done.
I see a lot of reviews where people talk about how this will make them think for awhile or how the questions raised in this book have been weighing on them, and I don’t quite get it. I did like the philosophical questions raised, but there’s nothing extraordinarily new here to make me think about this for a long time. It was good in parts, okay in others, and a bore in some. It’s not his best work, but I’m glad I read it.