Book review of The Stand, Stephen King

It’s Stephen King’s 70th birthday, so what better excuse to post a book review of The Stand, arguably his best book.

This book review of The Stand will demonstrate why it is a must-read, and you’ll be promptly adding it to your Waterstones’ baskets by the time I’m done. It won’t contain any spoilers, for those King fans that haven’t yet attempted this piece of art.

The Stand was first published in 1978 and then re-worked and re-published in 1990 as an uncut edition. And I’m glad King wasn’t too worried about the monstrous size of his novel. It’s a huge one, yet people still read it through to the end, multiple times.

book review of the Stand - front coverGeneral Plot

In The Stand, the ‘villain’ is portrayed as a disease, a sickness, that goes by the name of Captain Trips. King, in the magical way he has, makes us fear this disease so much. It wiped out 99.4% of the population. Seriously, read this book, and try not to flinch when someone sneezes on the bus.

Captain Trips was created accidentally by humans. When the scientists behind it became ill and gradually died, one fled the lab out of fear. He passed Captain Trips on to his wife and child. When the three of them died, they passed it onto the police and coroners, and so the majority of the population was quickly gone.

But something scarier (if that’s possible) emerges from the illness. Randall Flagg is pure evil. He visits the sick, ill, weary, and weak in their dreams, and encourages them to meet him.

But where there is pure evil, there is plain purity, and this comes in the form of Mother Abagail. She’s luring in the good and honest people to create an army that will fight the evil of Flagg.

It becomes obvious very quickly that these groups of people have survived for a reason. Why were they, the remaining 0.6%, immune to Captain Trips when it so violently killed everybody else?

Structure

As with all King novels, there is a whole host of characters, with wives and children, and backgrounds. It takes a while to become confident in who is who, but as always with King, not only does he achieve success with the number of characters, but they’re all incredibly real. You feel sympathy for them, you relate to them, and they’re so three dimensional. I’m yet to experience this with any other writer. You feel as if you have experienced the end of the world with them.

The characters are sort of introduced one by one, and then they gradually meet, until they either pick a ‘side’: that of Mother Abagail, or the evil Flagg.

This is one that needs to be read multiple times. Every time you’ll take something away from this novel that you never noticed within it before. You’ll either love it or hate it. You’ll get 100 pages through or will read all 1300 10 times in your lifetime.

Top Tip: If you don’t think you’ll get through it all, read the cut edition from 1978 first. It’s about 300 pages shorter.

Pick a copy up now for £8.99 at Waterstones

 

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