Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Stand by Stephen King

One of my reading goals for this year was to re-read The Stand. I read it back in 1990-1991, as a freshman in High School. Twenty-five years later, I started reading it again. I have the hardback, uncut edition but I was so slow reading it, until I realized it's so damn HEAVY to read comfortably in bed. So I switched to the Kindle version (also uncut) and zoomed through it.

I've always maintained that this book is my all-time favorite book ever. I recommend it all the time but I think the size has daunted people. With the advent of e-books, this shouldn't be a problem anymore. Heck, people are whizzing through the Game of Thrones books now. So I'll say again, don't be overwhelmed by the size. This book is fantastic and even more meaningful now.

I was surprised at how much I had forgotten but as I read, there was a feeling of deja vu. I realized how much I missed my "friends" Stu, Fran, Larry, Nick, Tom...... and it was so good getting back with them. (Yes, I love books that much)

The basis of The Stand is the apocalypse. Interestingly enough, with the Walking Dead franchise being so popular, the apocalypse is kind of a "thing" now. People are getting prepared for zombies, but in my mind, The Stand is more realistic. It's hard to prepare for Captain Trips.

The military/government created a superflu and it was 99% contagious and fatal. Think about that. About what that would do the population of the world. Somehow, the virus gets out. Before it can be contained a soldier flees the base to get his wife and daughter and get out of dodge. Right there, in that moment, is how the world collapsed, thanks the the actions of one scared man.

We travel around the US and meet our main cast of characters. Stu Redmon from Texas. Fran Goldsmith from Maine. Larry Underwood from California/NYC. Nick Andros, a traveller. Once the US has been wiped out with very few survivors, people start dreaming. Scary dreams involving The Dark Man aka Randall Flagg and comforting dreams starring Mother Abigail in Nebraska. Because humans never change, the survivors start splitting into two groups: good (travelling towards Mother Abigail) and evil (Flagg supporters).

War between good and evil is inevitable, even with 99% of the population dead and rotting. Flagg and his minions take over Las Vegas and Mother Abigail and her folks take Boulder, Colorado. We work with both sides, through the process of getting power back on, creating communities after everything has fallen apart, and trying to prepare for war against the other side.

King had time and space to create a story that forces you to become an active participant. You get to know and love/hate the characters with a ferocity but, since it's King, you understand not to get too close because not everyone can survive the fight between good and evil.

I will always enjoy my zombies but The Stand affects me more because it can happen. Plagues have happened in the past. Government and military operations have been underhanded and diabolical in the past. Evil exists and when people are broken, they are easily manipulated. But despite that, I feel that good will always win. Whether it's the hand of God or not, good will always triumph in the end. Even in the absolute end.

I will fully admit to hugging this book when I was done with it. I still adore it, I still adore the characters, ne FRIENDS, that I traveled the country with.

Tackle this one. You won't be disappointed. Don't let 1,100 pages scare you away.

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