I’m on page 121 of Stephen King’s new novel, Revival, and I’m waiting for the plot to kick in. King has lost none of his storytelling abilities over the years. I thought Doctor Sleep, his sequel to The Shining, was a fine followup that caught up with the characters while giving us an original story uninfected by sequelitis. But this new one is like King sitting in a rocker on a porch in summer, telling a long, rambling story that sounds interesting, but is taking a long time to get any good.
I’ve stuck with King through good and bad since one of the best teachers I’ve ever known suggested I read ‘Salem’s Lot back in high school in 1975. There are only two novels of his I haven’t read because I’m completely disinterested: Gerald’s Game and Dolores Claiborne. They were written during a period where King was doing a lot of drugs (read Stephen King: On Writing if you want to hear him tell the tale), and the abrasive qualities of their stories, I think, reflects what he was going through. Perhaps Revival does, too–he’s faced death, he’s slowed down, and his recent stories just don’t have the youthful vitality or the experimental aspects of his early work.
I almost put Revival back on the shelf last night, but I’ll keep reading. Sometimes, good stories take their own time in the telling, and surprise you when you least expect it.