The Stand

The Stand

By Stephen King

In case you were wondering, no, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth: I’ve been reading The Stand, all 1,141 pages (while also moving out of state, trying to get things in order, trying to find a new job, studying for the GRE literature test, and working on my personal statement- so, yes, things have been a little busy). But anyway, back to the book review.

As I have already mentioned, I, clearly, do not fear reading books that are deemed “airport” books- stuff that Oprah probably recommended and have become cliché in the book world. I read this book because I have a strange obsession with apocalyptic scenarios and my brother recommended it.

In truth, The Stand is enjoyable, especially if you are just looking for an entertaining book that will last you a while. This book is a journey- not a jaunt, a journey. I felt like it became a part of my consciousness, like I would be reading it forever and had been reading it as long as I could remember. I didn’t even buy any other books at this time because the idea of ever having time to read again seemed ridiculous.

In The Stand, (in case you somehow don’t know) a fast-spreading super-flu wipes out most of the world’s population. Those that are immune experience dreams of a dark, evil man and an old woman- both beckoning for the dreamer to come to them, choosing one or the other. Obviously, those who side with the old woman, Mother Abigail, are on the side of good, on the side of God, and those who choose to pursue the dark man, the walking dude, Randall Flagg, are on the side of evil, compelled mostly by their own fear and weakness. One side must conquer the other and take control of the future of humanity.

The beginning of this book is absolutely amazing. The flu spreads so quickly and so thoroughly- every time I coughed or sniffled, a part of me worried that I had the flu too! The world is slowly emptied and you, as the reader, have no idea who is going to survive and who isn’t. King goes into extreme detail and provides a step by step account of the death of the world. Then the dreams begin and they are equally thrilling- so creepy and subtle. Then god came in and it all got a little silly- but I had to keep in mind that this is a religious book so I can’t criticize based on my own personal issues with other people’s faith.

Truthfully, the only thing I really did not like about this book was the inner workings of the “free zone committee” the counsel created in Boulder, Colorado, amongst the good people. Almost anything with this committee was so painfully boring that I had to slap myself to stay awake. The final battle was also a bit quick considering that it had 1000 pages of build up-especially build up that is so exciting, so intelligent, so thoughtful, so detailed. While not religious myself, the religious context worked for the story and I believe the character of Randall Flagg to be extremely compelling. There were moments where I felt a little frustrated about the amount of characters, especially those who are introduced and then die of the flu a few pages later, but I understand the need to connect with characters in order to comprehend the tragedy of their deaths. They are not nameless corpses, but real people with real lives who didn’t want to die, who dreamed of so much more for themselves.

All in all, I completely enjoyed the journey of this book but was pretty disappointed with the final destination. Ignore the TV movie at all costs. Take your time with this book; enjoy the process of the world falling away and then rebuilt.

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