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 October 20, 2014
When purchasing a 'hardcover' book, you expect it to be a large hardcover style of book. This is a paperback size book with a hardcover. not at all what I was expecting, I collect Stephen King hardcovers, and this will NOT fit in with my collection.
on June 28, 2004
The end of the world. Who hasn't thought about it? And how can you forget those crazy Y2K fanatics who all firmly believed the Apocolypse was arriving on our planet Earth? They all stocked up on canned goods and urged the rest of the world to do the same.
King's Apocolypse depiction is a bit different here. No one saw it coming, not even the greatest so-called psychics. The world's population is not wiped out merely by explosions - nor does everyone die simultaneously. A deadly virus has escaped a factory and kills, once through, over 99 percent of Earth's people, over a couple of months. Victims are found in horriffic states: bloated necks, black skin, maggots feasting on their remnants and crawling out of their noses and ears and eyes.
THE STAND is not for the faint of heart.
I read the oh-so lengthy uncut version. Because of how long this novel is, King can afford to introduce many different characters. Some novels have attempted to do this. From my observations, their efforts usually fail because their book is too short to allow audiences to get to know and appreciate a plethora of characters. My favorite character was Nick Andros. Oddly enough, he was deaf and mute. But he's worked his whole life to overcome these hardships and shows he is very wise and witty, to an extent. Before the beginning of the Apocolypse, he was taking college courses. He can read lips just as well as Hellen Keller ever could, and once people realize his disabilities, he talks to them by means of pen and paper or pantomiming.
True, people will either love or hate THE STAND, King fan or not, I believe. My favorite novel of his will always be CARRIE, and this is a far cry from the traumatized teen and her world. It is also very different from PET SEMATARY, the second effort of his that I read. THE STAND is beautiful, at times, terrifying, and has a quality that distinguishes it from all other horror novels.
THE STAND's suspense begins practically from the first chapter and draws on and on. Whenever I met a new character, I wondered if they'd make it to the end of the book. This clearing out of people, practically like deforesting, is for the purposes of a Good vs. Evil confrontation.
In 1978, as fans of THE STAND may well know, renowned science fiction author Spider Robinson encouraged that people not read THE STAND. Unarguably, however, this book cannot be ignored. It became so popular that it was republished, unedited, in 1990. I'm pleased I got to read the unedited version, despite the fact that some say this isn't advisable. Because I haven't read the edited version, I'm not quite sure how to respond to this. But I very much enjoyed this version and I've got no difficulty understanding why many call this one of the greatest horror novels of recent years.
Different, it is. But only in the best way possible. :)
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 January 6, 2015
A type of superflu virus escapes from a military facility, spreads rapidly and kills 99% of humanity. The survivors come together in one of two camps: Good and Evil. Tensions between the two groups build to an inevitable confrontation.
While beautifully written and compelling, I do have some issues with the book:
1) Stereotypical deaf character. Very few deaf people read lips perfectly - it's actually an incredibly difficult skill to master. For some unexplained reason, he is also mute, which is convenient for the story, but is not characteristic of deafness.
2) There's no real insight as to why the opposing deities are trying to annihilate one other, other than one is good, the other is evil, so just because. I'm not big on the black/white, good/evil scenario, preferring a more nuanced story where there is at least a shred of sympathy for both sides.
3) The title is a complete misnomer because the stand never happens. They're on their way, they're prepared to do battle, and .... the outcome would have been exactly the same no matter what the characters did. I felt gypped.
That being said there is much to recommend the book. While the major conflict is lacking in nuance, the characters are not. We see them thrown into the worst possible circumstances and are with them every step of the way while they learn to adapt, or not, and grow into their better (or worse) selves. We are taken from the very beginning of the tragedy, through the spread of the superflu, the aftermath, and the reconstruction. The ending leaves us with the idea that the conflict isn't really over, just on hold for now.
While "The Stand" is not horror, it is terrifying in a totally different way. Do NOT read this book during flu season.
on June 13, 2014
Few can doubt the sheer scope and scale of The Stand. If nothing else, it is a book of terrifying vision.
In short, the army creates a weaponized version of the flu, which then escapes and decimates humanity. The survivors polarise into two camps as some demonstrate arcane abilities.
Despite the length of the book, my only criticism is that I would have liked a bit more character development. But that is a minor quibble, because this book has buckets of tension, pace and some great twists and turns.
Perhaps the greatest thing about this book is its legacy - it has influenced so many other works, from the bestselling A Gathering of Twine (The Spirals of Danu) (my fave book of the last 12 months) to the underwhelming The Passage: A Novel (Book One of The Passage Trilogy) (seriously, why does everyone rave about that book?) and onto such landmark films like 28 Days Later.
The Stand is more than a book of its time, and speaks to countless generations of Man's hubris.
A great read.
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?