It has been a long time since I’ve written a review. I am aware of this. The reason behind it was the book that I was reading was just shy of 1500 pages. In case you didn’t know, that is a lot!! The book that I just finished reading was Stephen King’s “The Stand”. This is regarded by many Stephen King fans as his best work and Stephen King shares that opinion as well, at least according to his “On Writing”.
The reason that I started to read this particular Stephen King book is that I was reading “On Writing” and throughout the book Stephen King uses various examples of his own work and the process that he went through to produce such works. Stephen King was covering writer’s block in “On Writing” and mentioned how when he was writing “The Stand” he had gotten roughly 400 pages written and got stuck. Since he had already invested so much time in his book he didn’t want to just abandon it and then he got to talking about how he came up with the ideas for the rest of the book. I don’t want to give them away, but when he was talking about this I realized that I had to read “The Stand” before I could continue to read “On Writing”. So that is just what I did.
“The Stand” is Stephen King’s tale of a flu epidemic that spreads when one man escapes from a testing facility resulting in 99% of the population to die. After this devastation, two groups form under two different leaders. The ‘good guys’ follow Mother Abigail who is 108 years old and “still makes her own biscuits”. Mother Abigail believes that she is following the word of God and leads people, both in person and through prophetic dreams to Bolder, Colorado. Then on the other side are the ‘bad guys’ led by a man known as Randall Flagg or the Walking Dude or The Dark Man. He sets up in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg have the ability to send messages out into the world via dreams. Dreams are the big connection between the survivors. All of them have always been big dreamers and they share the same dreams of Mother Abigail and The Dark Man.
The way that Stephen King writes his story is through the perspective of many different characters. Frannie Goldsmith and Nick Andros were my favorites. Other characters who helped to tell the story include Mother Abigail, Stu Redman, Larry Underwood, Trashcan Man, Lloyd Henreid, Harold Lauder, and Randall Flagg to name a few. I really do like this technique and have used it myself, the only down side is you get really caught up in one character and then you have to wait to find out what happens next. I guess that is the whole point.
In “The Stand” there is the obvious fight of good vs. evil or Mother Abigail vs. Randall Flagg. There are more subtle struggles throughout the novel as well. People are learning how to behave in a world where there is nothing and everything. There is no electricity, no government, no normalcy and at the same time “everything is lying around waiting to be picked up”. The lack of electricity isn’t because it hasn’t been discovered, but is because those who were in charge of making sure that everyone had it are gone. Stephen King paints a horrible picture with his novel. This is not because he is a bad writer, quite the contrary, but the events that he invents in his mind are frightening because of how easily it really could happen.
I wouldn’t recommend “The Stand” to everyone. I know that the average person cannot get through a 1500 page book easily. Plus if you’re not a Stephen King fan then you definitely wouldn’t enjoy “The Stand”. For those of you who enjoy reading the insane things that come out of Stephen King’s mind—it is a must read. It may just be my favorite Stephen King book (although I still haven’t read them all).