When I made it known that I was interested in reading one of Stephen King’s fiction books (after reading his nonfiction On Writing), The Stand was the one that almost everybody recommended. It is generally regarded as King’s best work. So I picked up the “Complete & Uncut Edition” of The Stand at my local bookstore, and I loved it—all 1,141 pages of it.
The original Stand was released in 1978, and the edition I read was a 1990 version with lots of new and rewritten material. I have never read the original, so I am judging the “Uncut” version as a stand-alone novel.
A “superflu” has been accidentally released from a military research facility, quickly decimating almost the entire human race and leaving only a ragged band of survivors scattered about. Amid the derelict remnants of civilization, the lucky survivors begin to congregate around two figureheads that appear to them in dreams—the good Abigail Freemantle, and the evil Randall Flagg.
This puts all the pieces in place for a battle of good-vs.-evil, pitting the citizens of the “Boulder Free Zone” (in Boulder, CO) against the diabolical ambitions of Flagg and his followers in Las Vegas.
As I mentioned, this is my first experience with Stephen King’s fiction—and it’s left me wanting more. His writing style is pithy and to-the-point, which means that each of the 1,141 pages is filled with important pieces of the story. In other words, there’s a lot here. It took me about a month to read this novel (I finish most in about 2 weeks, sometimes less).
But the story never dragged. I was hooked from page one, and finished it up wishing there was more. The characters were vivid and believable—often reminding me of people I have actually met—and the plot was intricate and strongly constructed. The really scary part is that it was almost believable.
5 out of 5 stars.