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.
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. :)
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 April 16, 1998
This book is a work of the many trials and tribulations that all must go through. It does all this with a keen grasp of humanity that is at once beautiful and startling. The characters are you and me. They are our neighbors, our freinds, our mirror images. This signifigant fact is what pulls the reader into this novel and doesn't let go until the world is safe again (maybe). The survival of these protagonists is the cornerstone of the voice of this country. They will perservere. They must so that good can, as all want to believe, conquere evil. These heroes are who we want to be. Who we wish we were. The heroes want there new world to be all that we, the reader, want it to be, a utopia. The villains are the newspaper stories that we read everyday. They are the embodiment of all that is wrong in our society. Thus, even in the supernatural depictments of some of the characters, they are believable. The villians also capture the readers emotions, taking them on a personal journey where we want the villians to lose just as bad as the protagonists want them to. THE STAND takes us on a wonderous ride that sees dreams born, people change, and visions of terror that will not soon leave our minds. Who is the master that takes us there - none other than Stephen King in one of the best books ever written in all time.
on September 25, 2000
I first read this book when I was a senior in high school and I have re-read it many more times since then. I keep a copy of it in my bag so if I am ever in a place where I need something to read, I always have it.
Stephen King did an excellent job writing this book. He made the scariest situation happen. I have read a lot of horror books, but this is still the scariest one just because I can see this one happening-I can see the government cooking up some nasty germs and then accidently releasing them and then causing a global epidemic.
I think Stephen King did a wonderful job of making the charecters come alive. It was like I was rooting for Frannie and Stu and the whole free-zone committee throughout the entire book.
The book did get a bit long, but I liked the fact that the plague took place early on in the book so we could see how civilization would re-group and turn out.
This is the best book in the whole world. Stephen King, if you read this, PLEASE write a sequel to The Stand!
on August 11, 2003
About 10 years ago I read the original Stand and at the time thought it was a little too long. For what reason I have know idea, probably just a restless young mind that counldn't focus for any length of time. So, 10 years later, what do I do when I come upon a used copy of the uncut edition? Well of course I read it again, and guess what? This time it doesn't seem as long.
A paradox? Not really. It's just I think that the full version is much more intricate giving a lot more insight into the characters. The overall Good vs. Evil theme is always lingering, always building to a cresendo, but you genuinely get swept away caring about the (rather large) cast of characters. It is a huge story (1141 pages of densely packaged prose) but you're sure to enjoy the ride.
The only complaint I have is that, because of richness of the story that gets built up for the first 3/4's of the book, it seems that it almost winds down a little too quickly. Maybe it was just a case of not wanting it end and having to say goodbye to some of the most interesting characters in Kings repetoire.
Then again maybe my powers of focus are now so honed that it's simply too short for me.
I wonder where I can find a used copy of War and Peace...
on November 26, 2000
Stephen King is so underrated as a novelist. People hear his name and think of these terrible horrer movies that never do his writing justice. King's greatest strength is his attention to detail and his characters in his stories. The Stand has the most real, vivid characters you will ever read about. You'll feel what they're going through. It wasn't until Shawshank Redemption that SK started to get the credit that was due to him by the mass public. It is unfortunate that because of a few bad movies he had nothing to do with, people judge his talents off of it.In the Stand, the story depicts the end of the modern world from a super flu that escapes a govenment lab. The first half to 3 quarters of the 1200 page book deals with the survivors of this flu travelling to Mother Abigail (the good force) or Randall Flagg (the bad or dark force). King's absolute mastery of storytelling allows the reader to switch character's abrubtly throughout the novel and never lose interest. Stephen King is a underrated geniues and this is his greatest achievement. Go out and buy the Hardcover... you'll love it that much. It has suspense, drama, romance, horrer, and comedy. The perfect tale of good, versus evil.
on June 1, 1998
With the exception of the "Dark Tower" series, I have read everything that Stephen King has written. In fact, I think I've paid for at least a bathroom in his house.
"The Stand" is the absolutely best book that he has ever written. Once I started reading it, I didn't stop until I was done. It really makes you think - what if our government wasn't quite so diligent with security at their chemical warfare test kitchens, we could possibly go through this exact scenario.
The characters were wonderful, Frannie, Stu, Tom Cullen - all were examples of people who have been through the worst that you can go through - and triumphed. Mother Abigail was the perfect counterpart to Randall Flagg.
I was pleasantly surprised that the movie stayed so close to the book, losing only a few characters.
I've read the book many times now and will finally have to go out and get another copy of it as mine is in tatters. If someone were to tell me "I've never read a Stephen King book. Recommend one to me," this would be it.
on March 21, 2001
A virus has been released from a research facility, and it spreads like a ... well disease. Pretty soon, everyone is coughing, sneezing and dying. 99.75% of the world population dies, and if the virus doesn't getcha ya, some crazy guy with a gun will. What emerges from the aftermath are a handful of people, who begin have dreams. One dream is a good-natured 108 yr old black woman calling them, and the other a dark-man with evil eyes. The battle-lines are drawn, and the survivors must choose who the will follow. "The Stand" is brilliant story about the lives following the virus of the survivors and how they make their way following their respective "leader" to a final showdown in Las Vegas. All the characters in the book are lovable, even the ones who follow the darkman such as "Trashcan Man" and "The Kid". The only dissappointment, is that after over 1000 pages of build-up, the final climax happens in one page. Having said that, the thousand page story is great, the cast has many adventures, romances, battles. When the dust settles and the end, you may be surprised who survives. And who knows, if we do blow ourselves up one day, "The Stand" may well be the survival manual of those left behind.
on March 6, 2002
"The Stand" is perhaps the best book King ever wrote! You cannot put this book away until you've read the last page. Although it has so many pages - 'cause you never know what will happen on the next one.
This books takes place in the future - almost the whole mankind is dead because of a manmade epidemic. That's the time for the last, ultimate fight on earth- between the good and the bad, between Satan and God - and their chesspieces on earth, mother Abigail and Randall Flagg.
Of course both of them are having their own assistants - Stu, Ralph, Nick, Glen, Tom and Larry for the "good guys" and Lloyd, Harold and Nadine for the other side. Of course there are many more characters, who are almost as important as those i wrote down, but the list would be to long, because ther are no minor characters in this book, every small thing one person did is later on very necessary. King wrote many individual psychologic charecters - one as credible as the other one. You can understand every step a character has done, and you will be surprised how this book ended - and after the last page you had the same feelings like Harold an the others: Joy, Pain, Dissapointment, Happyness, Anger.
It's really the best book I've ever read - buy it, you'll love it!!!