on May 4, 2007
I have always been a bit wary of Stephen King's books so I thought why not plunge into one of his most revered/loathed books by reviewers and fans alike? I wasn't disappointed at all. King, pulls you into a World through the eyes of a few survivors of a devestating plague and how as the lone survivors have to live, work, and survive together without killing each other. As in any post-apocalyptic story we have individuals who now have no fear of authority go on a rampage killing and pillaging and the survivors who just want to live are holed away cowering behind their walls. However, King doesn't go along this route (when does he ever!?), instead he pits those who survived due to Good and Evil. Throw in a bit of religious intrigue and not only do you have a book where questions arise through the characters on whether or not they believe in a God or whether they survived through pure chance just to end up fighting the Evil that lurks just over the mountains.
The characters are complex, evolving, and so life like that they could be easily recognized and easily relatable to in real life. The scenarios really helps the readers to empathize, sympathize, hate, or understand why the characters are acting as they did/are. I actually ended up supporting characters at one point and then questioning how they could have done what they did to the others...only to realize later on that from their point of view they did that to survive...something I found so refreshing. I was absolutely astounded by the evolving characters since I expected to read a book with cliched archetypes, now I know better. There are points where you wished King hadn't done what he did to one character (you'll understand later on when you read the book) since you feel so damn awful about how he was treated before the apocalypse that you wished he would end up happier in the post-apocalypse World.
If the World does end tomorrow and I needed a guidebook to help me survive the turmoil that tragedy on an epic apocalyptic scale brings...I would take "The Stand".
If you love Stephen King...buy this. If you love post-apocalyptic stories...buy this. If you love watching ordinary folks being forced to work with each other when their lives are at stake...buy this. If you really love evolving characters with each their own personalities and goals...buy this.
For my first Stephen King book, I was very much impressed by this epic novel. I'm glad I took the plunge. This book now is firmly placed in my top 10 list of books to take with me on a desert island.
5 *****'s all the way. :)
on January 24, 2014
I read The Stand when it first came out many years ago. I loved it then, but I was very much "into" all of King's books at the time, so I wasn't surprised. I read it a second time probably 10 years later (the extended version, I think) and enjoyed it just as much. So, it's been probably 30 years since I first read the book and I still think it's his best. This time, I read it on my Kindle (no carrying around a 1,000 page book!!) and wanted to take an entire weekend to just sit and read, but, alas, it was not to be . . . . I had to read it in fits and starts.
Stephen King is a writer who gets into your head. You just "know" what his characters look like; you feel like they're your neighbors, friends or someone you've met before, whether you like them or not. That's one reason why I don't really like the movies that have been made from some of his novels -- they never live up to his books.
If you've never read The Stand, or if you've read it when it first came out -- read it again!! You won't regret it. It will stay with you for a long, long time.
Reason for Reading: I am (re)reading King's books in chronological order. This was next on the list.
There are thousands of reviews of The Stand online already. I can hardly assume to add any more insight to what has already been said about the book so I won't try but rather instead give my impressions. I've read The Stand before, the original version, back when I was somewhere between 11 and 13. I know this as Cujo is the first new book of his I waited to buy when it came out. Since I'd read the original version, I chose to read the "uncut" version this time around. With 30 years between reads I am not in a position to compare the two as I only remember The Stand affecting me as a book that has stood out as one of the best books I'd ever read my entire life. It scared me and haunted me at the time.
The re-read has lost that affect on me. I didn't find it scary or incredibly creepy but I've read so many apocalyptic books since then that the novelty has worn off. I must remember though that those other books are all looking back at The Stand as their model and while some may get close, Justin Cronin's The Passage, none ever exceed King's original epic apocalyptic novel. That said it still is an incredibly well-written, compelling story that never lags. It has a huge cast of characters and this is when I enjoy King the most as he is a master at juggling a large ensemble and he can develop even minor characters who only have a few chapters to a point where you remember them long after the book. As a kid I remembered Larry the most and it was his character I was looking forward to meeting again but upon this second read as an adult Larry didn't affect me the same way. This time I found myself attached to Stu Redman much more. He is certainly the man I would want to have around if I was in such a situation! In King's preface he states that this is not his favourite novel but is widely mentioned as his reader's favourite. (I wonder which *is* his favourite). Not having read all his books I can't make that claim, yet, but of the ones I have read it did stay with me the most. After this re-read I can see why. It is not just a story but a world that the reader slips into and loses themselves. The classic struggle of good vs. evil keeps you on the edge of your seat and though I mentioned I didn't find the book scary or creepy, it certainly has many uncomfortable moments of gruesome and pure evil that are not for the faint of heart. In the end the book is not what I remembered it to be but it was a new experience with adult eyes that I understood more deeply and it still has a hold over me. I can truly see an apocalypse of this variety being a possible reality. A story that will consume you for days and haunt you for years.
on August 22, 2013
Seriously, King's always an incredible crafstman, his characters to die for, but of all of his novels (I've read most) this STANDS out as his classic great. Later novels just feel different, even if the voice and writing is always spectacular. The Stand is less polished, but more engaging on a number of fronts. Vivid, memorable scenes. I still remember Fran biting her tongue on the beach, of all things. Characters are always real -- and that's amazing in a fantasy epic. Normally, I look to escapism and fun in fantasy, but here, the characters feel so alive and real. My one thumbs down -- and it's not enough to bring this down to four stars -- is the expanded edition was not necessary. The original was expanded enough and just right. The new opening doesn't engage me like the old one with Stu in the garage, which is a real "Holy Crap" sort of opening. I once read where King griped about his fans saying his "best" book was such an old classic. But, hey, classic is classic. This is a triumph. The only weak point, to me, was the ending. It felt rushed. Maybe not as vivid as the rest. But it was all good, anyway. I recommend this to anyone who isn't susceptible to nightmares (it's more disturbing than scary, mind you.)
This Stephen King epic is about the end of the world and just after. Its characters goes through three parts, each with its own dangers and discoveries. First, the "Captain Trips" virus escapes from a secret U.S. Army research lab and kills more than 99% of the U.S. population. A few survivors are naturally immune. For the rest, there is no cure. The story begins much like any science fiction apocalypse; there are no supernatural elements.
In the second part, individual survivors gradually find each other. Each of them has two different repeating dreams that are remarkably similar across very different people. One dream is of a kindly old woman named Mother Abigail, who encourages them to gather in Hemingford Home, Nebraska. The other dream is about a dark man with no face, who confronts each of them with their greatest personal fear. He pressures them to surrender to his will and come to Las Vegas, Nevada. The story introduces several main characters, explores their motivations behind the destinations they choose, and illustrates the dangers of post-civilization travel.
The two groups begin settling and restoring. Mother Abigail moves with her group to Boulder, Colorado, where a panic at the plague's outbreak has left the city relatively free of bodies. Randall Flagg leads the Las Vegas group, directing them to not only restore utilities but to gather weapons. Guided by Flagg's ruthlessness and supernatural powers, they prepare to attack Boulder.
The third part has a mystical focus and sharpens the story's contrast between good and evil. A dying Mother Abigail chooses four from Boulder to confront Flagg's Las Vegas. They leave immediately with minimal provisions and begin walking west. The confrontation happens. And the story ends.
This is perhaps Stephen King's best book. First, and most importantly, it is a great story. There are also things to enjoy beyond the story. There are subtle themes in King's portrayal of good and evil. Good invites while evil intimidates, for example. And individual choices matter. There are other themes and their repeated expression gives the story a consistent moral texture. This extended version includes characters and events previously removed to "right-size" the book. Their return adds to the experience of a long journey through an extensive catastrophe. It is highly recommended; read it.
Satisfied readers might enjoy King's short story Night Surf, which plays out in the same post-Captain Trips setting. And they might want to avoid Cell. It has a similar post-apocalyptic setting, but not the depth and clear direction of The Stand.
I really need to re-read The Stand. This is, in my opinion, King's magnum opus. From the sprawling, evolving story, to the three-dimensional characters, to chills and thrills, this is the one. If you just want to enjoy the Stand on a basic level, it will succeed in entertaining you. If however you wish to dig deep, there is more lurking beneath the surface just waiting to be discovered.
I think the Walkin' Dude is one of King's most memorable characters ever. Others, like Nick Andros or the Trash Can Man, are well written and developed. This is just a great book, period.
The plot: A virus has been released accidentally and people are starting to drop like flies from the flu known as "Captain Trips". Before too long, everyone is wiped out, from coast to coast, except for some individuals who seem to be immune. These individuals begin to clump together into groups: good, and evil. As it becomes clear that a new start has come, which faction will determine the course of the future?
on March 19, 2007
I first read "The Stand" when I was fifteen (eight years ago) and have probably read it about 3-4 more times since then. It still is my favorite book ever. This book has everything in it action, romance, horror, comedy but most importantly an apocalypse that is eerily possible. The characters are rich and the plot carries you from the begining of a killer superflu that kills 99% of the population all the way to how the survivors are going about living with their lives. I am an avid King fan, but I also read many other horror novelists, and I still find this novel to be the one that has stayed with me the longest. I highly suggest anyone who wants to read a completely engrossing book that will change your life this is the one to pick up. What's even better is reading it again and again over the years and picking up on different things and getting something new out of it everytime. I have read it about 5 times and from age 15 to 23 the book changes and means something different everytime!! MUST READ!!!
The Stand, in my opinion, marks Stephen King's progression from horror to literature. Consistently voted fans' favorite King novel ever since its initial publication in 1978 (although I personally consider the novel It his finest work), The Stand delivers an archetypal conflict pitting good against evil against a backdrop of civilization itself. In this extraordinary novel, King fully unleashes the horrors previously contained in the microcosms of an extraordinary person (Carrie), a single town ('Salem's Lot), and a haunted hotel far removed from civilization (The Shining).
This is how the world ends: with a human-engineered superflu which escapes containment in the form of a terrified guard who unwittingly spreads death over a wide swath of southwestern America in his bid to escape infection. Captain Trips, they call it - until they die, and people die in droves within a matter of days. In almost no time at all, well over 99% of the American population have suffered an agonizing death. Those that are left all alone begin to dream: comforting visions of an ancient black lady called Mother Abigail in Nebraska rising up alongside nightmares of a faceless man out west. Many find their way to Las Vegas to serve under Randall Flag, the Walking Dude of their night visions, but many others flock to Mother Abigail in Nebraska and eventually Boulder, Colorado. As the citizens of the Boulder Free Zone attempt to reform society and make a new life for themselves, they are forced to come to terms with the fact that they are caught up in a struggle defined by their spiritual leader in religious terms. They must destroy Flagg or be destroyed by him - in a word, they must make their stand.
I could not begin to describe the dozens of richly drawn characters King gives life to in these pages. They are ordinary people called to do extraordinary things in a world reeking of death and fear. Some are not up to the challenge, and betrayal has awful consequences in this new reality - to the betrayer as well as the betrayed. These are real human beings, flaws and all; there is good to be found even among those serving the greatest of evils, and at the same time, the good guys don't always behave in ways you think they should. Nick Andros, Nadine Cross, Larry Underwood, Glen Bateman, Stu Redman, Harold Lauder, Mother Abigail, Tom Cullen, Randall Flagg, Trash Can Man - these are characters you will never forget. I must admit the climax of the great struggle just doesn't seem to be all it might be, but the first 1000 pages of this novel are so good that even Stephen King could hardly be expected to top what he had already accomplished in the framing of this ultimate conflict.
I find it slightly odd that religion plays such a small part in this visionary apocalypse. As far as Mother Abigail and, eventually, the novel's heroes are concerned, this is a religious fight between the imps of Satan and the servants of God, but you won't find any theology apart from a few misplaced references to Revelations by frightened characters, and no preacher of any faith seems to have survived the superflu outbreak itself.
I wouldn't call this a scary novel, but it certainly does have its moments - best exemplified by one character's journey through a dark tunnel surrounded by invisible but very dead and decaying bodies caught in an eternal traffic jam. The real horror, of course, is the all-pervasive atmosphere of a world decimated by man's self-imposed destruction. Death is literally everywhere these characters turn - in the silent houses and cars all around them, in the streets upon which they travel, in the terrifying nightmares they have of the Walking Dude, and even in the future they try to avoid thinking about, as no one knows whether the superflu will kill the children yet to be born. I found the sections dealing with the reconstitution of a society of some sort to be the most interesting aspect of the novel - will it be like the old society, will it repeat the mistakes of the last one, etc. This is also a story of personal redemption, as the novels' heroes must overcome their pasts and/or their human weaknesses and handicaps in order to make their stand. When the deaf-mute Nick tells Mother Abigail that he does not believe in God, she tells him that it doesn't matter because God believes in him - that is a truly empowering message.
There is an intriguing philosophical undercurrent to this novel that applies both eloquently and meaningfully to the human condition. The Stand is modern literature, a direct descendant of such epics as The Iliad and The Odyssey, and you will learn something about yourself when you read this masterpiece of contemporary literature.
on June 29, 2004
This morning I finished The Stand:Complete and Uncut, and I must say the book was amazing. This is a King novel, so expect lots of character depth and a multi-layered plot. The book is about the end of the world as we know it. An accident at a germ-warfare research facility in California unleashes a deady engineered flu epidemic that spreads uncontrollably fast. The world is in chaos with people dropping dead left and right and bodies being dumped into the ocean by the boatload. And even as things are rapidly falling apart, the government attempts to cover-up their mistake. Their efforts fail, and 99.4% of the world's population is deceased. The immune survivors, still in shock, begin to look for other humans to band together with. Then the dreams come... dreams of a Dark Man in the West and a 108 yr old black woman in the East, both beckoning to them. Everybody has them, and with nothing better to do, they make a pilgrimage to one or the other and prepare for an apoplyptic battle of good versus evil...
The book can be disorienting in the first half because the perspective switches between many characters doing different things every chapter. There is no one main character, rather a group of them: A small town redneck name Stuart Redman, a pregnant young lady named Francis Goldsmith, a deaf mute by the name of Nick Andros, and many others. In one long section in the middle the book slows down to a snails pace, and gets pretty boring. This middle part could have been easily compressed, and I have a feeling that most of the added material is in that section. Other than that, I couldn't put it down and the 1000+ pages flew by in about a week. Buy this book, you'll be very satisfied with your decision, whether you just like some good action or if you're a thinker (This book will make you pause and contemplate a number of different issues)
on May 24, 2004
The Stand is, more or less, a story depicting the end of the world. It begins with an accidental outbreak of super flu from a government facility, which soon breaks free to wreak havok on unsuspecting humans and animals. Almost everyone dies, and does so considerably fast. The army tries to stop it, but no one succeeds. Those that DO survive are people who have a natural immunity to the bug. Eventually these lucky souls band together to form a sort of community.
The atmosphere is bleak and gritty. It's depressing, but at the end of the tunnel they find a light through each other. They try and maintain hope and see it through to the end, while fighting the seemingly impossible at the same time. Not a feel good book necessarily, but then again most horror isn't.
Suspense was built up when it should have been, and most of it had my back muscles stung up pretty tight.
Stephen King is one of those authors who has a natural talent with characterization. The Stand is no different, and although there are several key players to keep track of, I wasn't confused as I have been in some of his other novels. I can't speak of a "main character," because there were several, and each person brought forth their unique traits, their past histories, and their own individual purposes, that were important to the plot. Each one enhanced the tale, and without this important element the story would not have succeeded so well. I didn't like everyone, but thankfully those I didn't care for got less time than the others.
Some may see the page count of this one (817) and fear it would be too slow for them, rest assured it's not. The pace goes along surprisingly well for such a lengthy read.
Is the Stand haunting? Well...it's never fun to imagine that basically the entire world is dead and you are left alone, forced to seek out other survivors and make them your new family because your real ones are dead. It's not fun to go into the street and be greeted with the stench of decaying corpses, or to no longer have electricity and signs of modern times. Getting wrapped up in the story like I did, I was able to imagine what this would have been like, and let me tell you it wasn't pretty. That theme alone was creepy. The end of the world isn't a time I'd want to live in, especially if it goes out this way.