The Stand by Stephen King - a review

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Rich_B_UK
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The Stand by Stephen King - a review

Post by Rich_B_UK » 16 Jul 2014, 10:24

The Stand remains one of my favourite books of all time, despite having first read it about 20 years ago. Stephen king has created a masterpiece with this novel, which is often cited by King fans as their favourite of all his novels. It is easy to see why; over the course of this enormous novel, he includes everything that each of his other books managed to include individually, but in one epic story. You will encounter supernatural horror, horrific moments of human behavior, rich characters both virtuous and villainous who come alive on the page and will live on in your memory for years to come, bloodshed, tears, joy, betrayal, and people struggling to survive in a changing world.
The novel is huge, both in terms of the page count and the scale of the story. It doesn't lend itself to synopsis, but I should at least attempt it. The Stand is set in 1980's America and involves the accidental release of a superflu virus and the eventual sickening death of everyone but a small number of survivors; these people, it turns out, are immune to the virus and become the heroes and villains of the novel. What follows is the story of those survivors' struggle to find each other and rebuild society in the new world, and how each is drawn to one of two camps: good or evil (thought the line is never completely clear). The book concludes with the inevitable conflict between the two camps (The Stand). This simple synopsis, however, excludes a vast amount of storyline, characterisation, drama, betrayal, horror and intrigue.
King introduces each of his characters gradually throughout the first part of the book as they go about their usual lives. As people around them start to get sick and die, we see these characters begin to develop and change before our eyes. Many are forced to take on roles within a group which are completely alien to them because of the new circumstances they find themselves in, and we share their fear, disappointment and horror, as well as their rare moments of joy. King focuses more on the virtuous characters in The Stand than the villains, but the handful of villains are equally rich and well written. Some of the set pieces in the book are truly horrifying and will live in your memory long after you've put the book down. The book doesn't contain vampires, telekinetic schoolgirls, rabid dogs or psychopathic caretakers or clowns; the moments of horror come mainly from what people are prepared to do to each other to survive. It is for this reason that The Stand, for me, is one of King's scariest books and seems relevant each time I read it.
King's dialogue in The Stand is some of his best, and there are so many memorable lines. King uses his writing style to masterful effect in the novel, sometimes drawing back from his characters to deliver a chillingly objective narrative on how the world is changing due to the flu virus and the things people are going through. Then he will return to one of the principle characters and advance the story with a up-close and personal experience often driving home the horror and despair of finding oneself alone in an empty world with no-one to offer guidance. Heroes and leaders are created during the course of the story, and these characters are some of the most expertly created in recent literary history.
I unreservedly give this book 4 out of 4 stars.

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Post by S dot Lennon » 16 Jul 2014, 11:06

I am a huge Stephen King fan and The Stand is an amazing novel. It is huge and yet when I read the revised edition I devoured it in a few days. I couldn't put it down. I agree with you. It deserves 4 stars. This is a great example of Stephen King as a writer and a storyteller.
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Post by ktfrank04 » 30 Sep 2014, 08:49

“The Stand”
Stephen King

Rate: I rate this book 4 out of 4 Stars

Recommend: Yes – but not if you do not enjoy long detailed stories.

Page count: 1439

Favorite quote: “No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just…come out the other side. Or you don’t.” (p. 547-8)

Review:
Do not be discouraged by the page count, this book is worth the read. Let me premise this review by saying I was skeptical when told to read this book. I had recently started reading King’s Dark Tower series when a few people told me that I had to read “The Stand” before continuing with it. I was skeptical because I am not one of those apocalypse fanatics. I do not generally enjoy reading about zombies or any of those outlandish “end of the world” scenarios; I find the whole topic ridiculous. This book, however, steers clear of those absurd conceptions and sticks to realistic scenarios in which the end of the world could possibly happen. Not due to zombies or god or the devil, although the latter two are prevalent in the story, but to mankind’s own disastrous mistake. This was something I could sink my teeth into, metaphorically speaking.

The Stand cannot even be described as solely apocalyptic, because it entails so much more. Among the death and destruction there is drama, romance, action, revenge, community, government, philosophy, sociology, and psychology mixed in. The list can go on and on. This book literally has it all. Even the characters themselves are diverse across the board, intriguing enough to keep you interested in them throughout these thousand pages.

The first half of the book details how the “superflu” spirals out of control and wipes out 99% of the world’s population. I could have done without the “excerpts” of radio communication and broadcasts that King put in there but I can see why he did it. It was to show how out of control both the civilians and military had gotten because of this epidemic. In between these general descriptions of the deteriorating country, there are both flashbacks and current stories regarding the individuals who will become major players towards the end of the book.

The second half of the book illustrates the main characters’ struggle to reach their final destinations. Whether to the figure of good, Mother Abigail, or to the figure of evil, Randall Flagg/The Dark Man, each person had their set of trials and tribulations. At this point in the story, two main cities are being occupied by these forces. Flagg has control over Las Vegas, Nevada, while Mother Abigail and her “Free Zone” are set up in Boulder, Colorado. Each group develops their own version of a community and both have their set of leaders. I will not go into further detail about the events in the second half because I would not want to ruin the surprises, but let me say it does not disappoint! I am a huge critic when it comes to endings (whether in books or movies, etc…), and I certainly was not counting on a happy one for this book. But, King nailed it. Of course these pages are littered with death and destruction, but I believe the characters that were meant to live, did. **Spoiler** When Tom finds Stu in the desert at the end I was like “YES!” and I would have been happy with it ending right there since it was a pretty miraculous turn of events. King goes on to set up one happy ending, maybe the only one needed, and comes full circle with the knowledge that both good and evil have survived.

Overall, “The Stand” is a great book, a must-read for Stephen King lovers.

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Post by gali » 30 Sep 2014, 10:59

I have read the book and liked it as well. A great book indeed!
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by ktfrank04 » 01 Oct 2014, 05:26

If you've read this book and have not read the dark tower series, you should! One of the characters is introduced in book three, gave me a good chuckle d:

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Post by SusanR » 05 Oct 2014, 09:11

This is my favorite Stephen King book and one of the few books that I re-read every few years. I can honestly say that it is one of the top 10 books that I have read in my life -- and believe me I have read a lot of books.

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Post by jweber » 08 Oct 2014, 15:57

I also loved The Stand! It has been about 20 years for me as well, sound like a revisit is in order! :P This book was indeed one of my favorite Stephen King books of all time! A true masterpiece!

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Post by rssllue » 08 Oct 2014, 16:04

I loved the conflict that he created in this novel where the good and evil sides of people warred not only with each other, but within themselves as well. God versus Satan has been a conflict since the beginning of time, but I think that Stephen deals with it in a very interesting way that makes this story unique indeed. It might be time for me to read it again.
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Post by blue_soliloquy » 08 Oct 2014, 18:53

Has anyone seen the tv movie adaptation of this book? I first saw it when I was much younger, before I had ever read the book, and it became my favorite movie, until I read the actual book, that is. The movie doesn't do the book justice--not by a long shot! I have read the book numerous times, and it is always my favorite S. King book. I have the original, un-revised edition, and I read it in a matter of days because, like every other book of his, I couldn't stop reading!

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Post by ktfrank04 » 08 Oct 2014, 19:14

blue_soliloquy wrote:Has anyone seen the tv movie adaptation of this book? I first saw it when I was much younger, before I had ever read the book, and it became my favorite movie, until I read the actual book, that is. The movie doesn't do the book justice--not by a long shot! I have read the book numerous times, and it is always my favorite S. King book. I have the original, un-revised edition, and I read it in a matter of days because, like every other book of his, I couldn't stop reading!
I have yet to see the movie but i heard that they are talking about making a new one!

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Post by rssllue » 08 Oct 2014, 19:16

I saw the movie before I read the revised book. I actually liked it quite a bit. I thought they had great casting and performances. I had fun watching it. :)
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Post by cyndiha11 » 10 Oct 2014, 16:08

I have not read the revised book, but the original was awesome! Come to think of it, I haven't watched the movie either. I wonder how I missed that...
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Post by ktfrank04 » 12 Oct 2014, 10:35

Guess i need to find a copy of that movie so i can watch it !

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Post by rssllue » 12 Oct 2014, 10:37

ktfrank04 wrote:Guess i need to find a copy of that movie so i can watch it !
It just happens to be on Netflix! :) 8)
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Post by klnadams » 12 Oct 2014, 13:11

I am a huge Stephen King fan. I have most of his books in hard cover. The Stand is a great read. I once was told that if you can read, follow and understand a Stephen King book you can read almost any book and understand it. I try and read every book that he has written. Don't like the movies that much. Seems it is easier for me to read and make up my own "movie" in my head. I am usually disappointed when I see a movie based off of a book.

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