Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Stand

THE STAND by Stephen King

I know that you must think that I had either dropped off the face of the earth or had quit reading altogether, but it’s not so. As stated in an earlier blog, I decided to read The Stand by Stephen King in 1978. SO?, you say. Well, for starters, I picked up the complete and uncut edition (of course, what great reader would choose a digested version?) and guess how many pages the uncut edition is? Yep, 1141 pages of the smallest print probably possible! I mean, we are talking a BIG book.

Was it worth it? Did I complete it? Oh, my goodness, what a good book! Yes, it was worth it and I did complete it. Now, I am kind of eager to watch the video version just to see how well (or not) they cover the book.

It is an amazing book. I have always thought that Stephen King was a master of character development (although that is based on just the couple of his books that I have read), and he really came through with it in this book.

The premise of the book is that an accident occurs in a government facility in California and a “superflu” is released. Everyone at the facility dies of it, except for one man who was able to escape the facility before it was locked down. He grabbed his family and headed east. By the time he reached Texas, he and his family had already infected others and the original source family died in Texas. But the superflu is well on it’s way to destruction. About 99% of the country ends up dying of it.

However, 1% of the population appears to be immune to it. Those people began having dreams. They dream of an old, old lady called Mother Abigail living in Nebraska who seems to be calling them to her. They also dream of a “Dark Man” whose face can’t be seen, but he seems to be an evil force.

Several groups of people from the East coast set out seaparetely to go to Mother Abigail and thus, the journey begins. The people aligned with Mother Abigail end up in Boulder, CO and begin remaking society. Meanwhile, there are also groups of people who decide to join forces with the Dark Man in Las Vegas NV. It is classic good and evil.

What I found to be “scary” about the book was the actual possibility of 1) a superflu actually existing and 2) being exposed to the superflu. The first couple of weeks that I was reading the book, everytime I was out in public and someone coughed or sneezed, I froze for the briefest moment. It became that real to me!

I definetely recommend this book, but again, it is really long! Well worth it, but long!

Note: It was interesting to read this after reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy earlier this year. Very similar themes about survivial after the country's holocaust occurs.