- Type: Paperback
- Pages: 1172 pages
- ISBN: none
- ASIN: 9789127032170
- Edition Language: English
You know whatвЂ™s really scary? Getting sick while youвЂ™re reading the first part of The Stand. Just try running a fever, going through a box of tissues and guzzling the better part of a bottle of NyQuil while Stephen King describes the grisly deaths of almost every one on Earth from a superflu.
On top of feeling like crap, youll be terrified. Bonus!After a bio-engineered virus that acts like a revved up cold escapes from a U.S. government lab, it takes only weeks for almost all of humanity to succumb to the disease. A handful of survivors are mysteriously immune and begin having strange dreams, some of which are about a very old woman called Mother Abigail asking them to come see her. More disturbing are nightmares about a mysterious figure named Randall Flagg also known as the Dark Man or the WalkinвЂ™ Dude.As they make their way through an America almost entirely devoid of people, the survivors begin to unite and realize that the flu was just the beginning of their problems.
While some are drawn to the saintly Mother Abigail in Boulder Colorado who tells them that they have been chosen by God, others have flocked to Flagg in Las Vegas who is determined to annihilate all those who refuse to pledge their allegiance to him.If King would have just written a book about a world destroyed by plague and a small number of people struggling in the aftermath, it probably would have been a compelling story.
What sets this one apart is the supernatural element. Flagg is the embodiment of evil and chaos. Hes a mysterious figure who has been giving the wrong people the push needed for them to make things worse for everyone, and he sees the plague as his chance to fulfill his own destiny as a wrecker of humanity. And on the other side, we have God. Yep, that God. The Big Cheese himself. But this isnвЂ™t some kindly figure in a white robe with a white beard or George Burns or Morgan Freeman.
This is the Old Testament God who demands obedience and worship while usually rewarding his most faithful servants with gruesome deaths. King calls this a tale of dark Christianity in his forward, and one of the things I love about this book is that it does feel like a Biblical story, complete with contradictions and a moves-in-mysterious-ways factor.
Stories donвЂ™t get much more epic than this, and King does a great job of depicting the meltdown of the world through the stories of a variety of relateable characters. (Larry Underwood remains among my favorite King creations.) One of my few complaints is that this features a lot of KingвЂ™s anti-technology themes that heвЂ™d use in several books like Cell or The Dark Tower series. WeвЂ™re told repeatedly that the вЂold waysвЂ™ like trying to get the power back on in Boulder are a вЂdeath tripвЂ™.
The good guys gather in the Rocky Mountains, but if they try to get the juice going so they wonвЂ™t freeze to death in the winter, theyвЂ™re somehow acting in defiance of GodвЂ™s will and returning to the bad habits?
Not all tech is bad tech, Mr. King. Nature is a bitch and will kill your ass quicker than the superflu.HereвЂ™s another thing IвЂ™m not wild about. When this was published in the late вЂ70s, the bean counters at KingвЂ™s publishers had decided that the book as written would be too pricey in hardback and no one would pay a whopping $13 for a Stephen King hardback. So King cut about three hundred pages.Around 1990 after it had become apparent that King could publish his shopping list as a best seller, he put those pages back in and released the uncut version.
Which IвЂ™m fine with. The original stuff was cut for a financial reason, not an editorial one, and thereвЂ™s some very nice bits of story added in. If King would have stopped there, we would have had a great definitive final version as originally created by the author.Unfortunately, he seemed to catch a case of Lucasitis and decided to update the story a bit and change its original time frame from 1980 to 1990.
IвЂ™m not sure why that seemed necessary to him. Yes, the book was a bit dated by then, but it was of its time. He didnвЂ™t rewrite the text (Which IвЂ™m grateful for.), but just stuck in some references to Madonna and Ronald Reagan and Spuds McKenzie. This led to a whole bunch of anachronisms. Would students in 1990 call soldiers вЂ™war pigsвЂ™? Someone in New York picks up a phone book to look up the number to call an ambulance instead of dialing 911?
A song called Baby, Can You Dig Your Man is a huge hit? None of it quite fits together. Theres also a layer of male chauvinism and lack of diversity that you can overlook in a book written in the late 70s, but seems out of place for a book set and updated for 1990.The things that irritate me are still far outweighed by one of my favorite stories of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.IвЂ™m also glad to get a long overdue audio edition of this book.
Great narration and 40+ hours of end of the world horror make for a damn fine listening experience.