Zarkseven's Reviews > The Stand

The Stand by Stephen King
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Jan 09, 11

bookshelves: horror, fiction, epic, stephen-king
Recommended for: Stephen King fans
Read in May, 2009 — I own a copy, read count: 1

ust finished up The Stand by Stephen King. It was originally written in 1978 and was revised and expanded in 1990. About 400 pages were added back in that were originally removed by King at the suggestion of the original publisher to make it more marketable/profitable. The story is about the survivors of a superflu that is accidentally released by the U.S. military and wipes out nearly all of the world’s population, setting the stage for an ultimate confrontation between Good and Evil.

I bought the paperback of the expanded edition in the early 90′s and started reading it, but put it down at some point to read something else, and never went back to it. Since I’ve read the majority of Stephen King’s works via audiobook, I had hoped to be able to do the same with The Stand, but audio versions are hard to come by. There is a Books On Tape version of the original book, and a UK Royal Institute of the Blind version of the expanded book, but no official U.S. release of it. I picked it up and started it again about the time the Marvel comic series started (see below), wanting to stay ahead of the comic releases, and was about 200 pages in before again stalling out. When the Kindle spurred my love of reading on again, I bought the Kindle version, and finished all 1140 pages (if the Kindle actually had pages, that is).

LIKED

The plot. 99.4% of the world’s population dying by the accidental release of a man-made virus. The ways in which people trying to cope with everyone dying around them. The gathering of the good people and the not-so-good people. Epic apocalyptic confrontation between good and evil, in the classic sense where Good is pretty hands off (ok, well, “hands off” most of the time), and Evil is very proactive.

The characterizations. There were a lot of characters in The Stand. But most were pretty distinct and not always one dimensional. You can’t sustain a novel that long without a good cast of characters, and The Stand has it. M-O-O-N, that spells good characters. Not that there was any one character that I could identify with (I’m no Trashcan Man), but it’s definitely a story where you say to yourself as you go along “what would I do if this happened?”

The miniseries. Ok, so this is supposed to be about the book. But I watched the miniseries in 1994 and couldn’t remember much except some very basic things. The rewatched it this week. It’s good. It follows the story very well, and I find it hard to criticize much in it without getting too nitpicky. It’s showing its age a little, in terms of the production values, but it’s a decent visual abbreviation of the book. Watch it if you can find it on DVD somewhere.

NOT SO MUCH

The world view. Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I couldn’t help wondering quite a bit about what was happening outside the U.S. Not that the survivors would know in 2009 any more than in 1990. I’m sure communications would break down as rapidly as anything else. But was some guy in Turkey seeing visions of the Walkin Dude? Was a Japanese lady trying to figure out how to get to Nebraska?

Vegas motivations. I never did understand the motivations of the population that was drawn to Las Vegas. You almost always heard that the dreams from Flagg were nightmarish. Evil people are not necessarily attracted to frightening things. Maybe some were seduced by thoughts of power or something, but what about the average man that goes there and ends up on street cleaning duty? My best guess was that it was a compulsion, but that answer is somehow unsatisfying to me.

RECOMMEND?

Yes. I’d put it up there as one of my favorite Stephen King books (and I’ve read quite a lot of them). I was a bit daunted by the length at first, and the fact that I’d started and stopped it twice since 1994, but I’m pretty sure that happened previously not for lack of interest, but because I put it aside to read some new release I’d been waiting for, and then never went back to it. This time around I stuck solely with it and looked forward to getting back to it day after day. If you’re not daunted by the length, I’d highly recommend it.

If you’re not much of a reader, as I said before, there’s always the miniseries. Also, Marvel Comics has been adapting the novel to comic form during the last year. The first five comics have been combined into a hardcover volume entitled The Stand: Captain Trips, which is available at comic shops and online retailers. The story continues in the second group of comics, entitled The Stand: American Nightmares, which is currently being released monthly. So far they are very detailed and true to the novel.

Finally, Twitter lovers can follow Mother Abigail, Randall Flagg, Frannie Goldsmith, Stu Redman and a host of others as they seem to be twittering out the whole story. Beware of the swine flu... err, Captain Trips.
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