Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Club: The Stand

I impulse purchased this book a while back when I noticed that the Kindle version was on sale. Then, on a whim, I glanced at the first couple pages. For the next couple weeks I did nothing with my free time except plow through all 1,400 pages of this fascinating novel.
The Stand is Stephen King's most popular book: A post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel about a rapidly mutating flu virus accidentally released from a U.S. military facility that wipes out 99.4% of the world's population.
Following this pandemic plague, the bewildered, terrified survivors begin to ban together in search of a leader. Two emerge: Mother Abagail, a benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious "Dark Man," who delights in chaos and violence. Thus, the stage is set for a final confrontation between Good and Evil.

The book is divided into three different sections. The first, "Captain Trips," takes place over 19 days, during which King outlines the total breakdown and destruction of society through widespread violence, the failure of martial law to contain the outbreak, and eventually the death of virtually the entire population. The second, "On the Border," intertwines cross-country odysseys undertaken by a small number of survivors drawn together by both circumstances and their shared dreams of Mother Abagail. Under her direction, they begin to reestablish a democratic society called "the Free Zone" in Boulder, Colorado.  Meanwhile, another group of survivors are drawn to Las Vegas, Nevada by Randall Flagg, whose rule is tyrannical and brutal. Finally, "The Stand" sets the stage for a final confrontation between the two camps, leading to the "stand" of good against evil.

I thought The Stand was an absolutely incredible novel — maybe one of the best I've read by any author in any genre. The book is incredibly intricate and intense. You definitely need to be in for the long haul, but the result is well worth the effort. The story has stayed with me ever since I finished: The thought of something so terrible and scary happening in our own future is horrifying, and it's the realm of realistic possibility that makes it even more scary.

The original publication was abridged, but King restored and republished the book as the "complete and uncut" version in 1990, and that's the one I read. Although I did think that certain parts of the story got tedious and a bit unbelievable at times (especially in Book III), this is an amazing, terrifying story, and I'd recommend The Stand to almost anyone.

I love reviewing novels, but sometimes it makes me sad to think that no one reads them. Then, every once in a while, I'll get feedback like this from someone that just makes my day...

Here is my sister, Erin, reading The Stand simply because I mentioned it recently in my last book review.

Is anyone else reading these things?
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  1. I have never read Stephen King but if you say it's his most popular and REALLY good, then I'm sold!

  2. I first read this book when I was 14 and loved it...I've been thinking of reading it again - perhaps I should do so soon.


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