Saturday, January 9, 2016

Revival - a review

I suppose it may count as some small tribute to say that Stephen King is nearly alone among authors who can inspire me to stick by him through 450 pages of print that is far too small for my weary eyes to handle without squinting and eventually bringing on a headache. He is, and has always been, the master of the page turner. However, by the time his new novel Revival ends, one finds oneself turning those pages in hopes that King may miraculously deliver himself from the mess he has created, thus reviving the faith of the long time fan.

The book starts out as a quite promising story of innocence and sudden catastrophe, naivety coming face-to-face with the dispassionate, inscrutable cruelty of life. For more than 200 pages, King patiently paints and peoples his theme with tenderness and insight.

At around the halfway point, the narrative suddenly and unapologetically lurches into a new gear, the paranormal gear, grinding all the way. Only Stephen King could get away with this, and only because he is Stephen King and he is only doing what the reader anticipates.

So we forgive him, in the anticipation that he will now continue to unfold the story at hand on a new level. This is what King  does, in books such as The Shining, Salem's Lot and It.

Sadly, however, in this case, he has not only changed gears but gone into warp drive, leaving the first part of this carefully crafted story in a confused swirl of dust.  Characters turn to cardboard, become nearly indistinguishable one from another, ideas collapse into cliches, focus explodes. In less than 200 pages, ideas for a dozen stand alone novels are squandered, sometimes in a single paragraph, then dropped like empty wrappers while the story searches for its final packaging. And never arrives. It finally rushes, instead, to a lackluster conclusion, leaving the impression  that the author himself had tired of the thing and just wanted to be rid of it once and for all.

A keen disappointment is Revival, leaving me to anticipate a true revival in the future - of a fine author's skill and talent.

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