The Reading List: The Stand

The Reading List is a segment of the blog where I let you know the thing I just read and some thoughts about it along with the next book in my list. Should you want to read along with me, let me know in the comments! 

Boy, The Stand was one long and rough journey. Both for me and the characters in the book. This is one of those books that people will tell you that you should definitely read, and I’m here to tell you that they are all right. You should read it. You should be prepared to work through it, but if you can get through all 1200 pages, you’re in for a very satisfying story.

Stephen King’s novel was released in 1979, but apparently people were upset that he didn’t include 500 pages worth of “extra” material, so it was republished in the early 90’s. I never read the original cut, so I really don’t know what was missing in the original. I do have an inkling of what might have been left out. There are some long rat holes into the lives of what I might consider to be secondary characters, but really at the end it ended up being pretty important. The only review I can give you is on the epic 1200 pages that I plowed through.

The short story is, I loved it! It was such an incredibly well written and well paced story. It took forever to finally get to the summary you read on the back. You don’t get to meet Mother Abigail for maybe 600 pages. Knowing that there was a “stand” coming, but never seeing an inkling of it for almost half the book was a little tough. Though I did find it pretty fun to read each character’s journey and how they found each other. By the time all the main characters got together, I knew who they were. I knew their past and what made them who they were. They were all fully formed humans once the story got rolling.

One chapter in particular blew my mind, and that was Chapter 8. It’s the section of the book that simply spends some time talking about how the plague, Captain Trips, spread from person to person. It was amazing to read how one person took it to three people who took it to another four who then took it to seven people. It’s not like reading geneaologies in the Bible though. It’s not boring. This book is never truly boring. Stephen King has a way of wrapping you into stuff that should be really straight forward and then turning it just a little askew. He shifts the normal just enough that it’s weird and slightly off putting.

There were a few characters that I loved reading about. Nick Andros, Stu Redman, and Tom Cullen. I mean, there are plenty of other fascinating folks in this book, but these guys were the heroes. There was also Frannie Goldsmith and, of course, Randall Flagg (aka The Dark Man.) Nick was a deaf and mute dude who managed to do more than anyone would have expected considering the world he ended up in. Stu was just a great guy who managed to get rolled in with all the other right people. He was kind of the patient zero in the story. One of the folks that was closest to the original victims but never seemed to catch the flu. Tom was mentally challenged but very much ends up being a key to saving the day. 

Randall Flagg though, man. That guy was dispicable and deranged. King doesn’t hold back in letting you know that he’s some other kind of force in this book. He quickly tells you all about Flagg’s history and his status as Satan’s Imp. He’s a bad dude, and he’s always been around. He just waits for the next catastrophe and tries to capitalize on it to rip people apart. The only good news we have is that he doesn’t win… or does he? You might walk way wondering if the world is going to be awesome after all the dust settles, or if we’re just doomed to repeat our mistakes over and over. Was the haven in Boulder really any better than all the convicts in Vegas? I still don’t know, and it’s something I’m likely to be thinking about for a while.

This is definitely a must read. Give it a try.

Next up: The Heroes – Joe Abercrombie

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