Book Review: The Stand

THE STAND | Stephen King
08.07.2012 (first published in 1978) | Vintage Anchor
Rating: 5/5 stars


The military has been working on the next great form of biological warfare in order to protect the United States, should the time ever come. Something has gone horribly wrong and the super-flu these military scientists have created has been leaked inside their testing facility. What could have been a contained incident becomes an epidemic, as an infected personnel member attempts to outrun death. As he gathers his family and leaves town he spreads what will become known as Captain Trips to everyone he encounters. Only 1% of the world’s population will be immune and make it out alive.

Show me a man or a woman alone and I’ll show you a saint. Give me two and they’ll fall in love. Give me three and they’ll invent the charming thing we call ‘society’. Give me four and they’ll build a pyramid. Give me five and they’ll make one an outcast. Give me six and they’ll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they’ll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.

The Captain Trips survivors are scattered across the United States, but something is connecting them together. These survivors are sharing the same dreams. Dreams of a mysterious man shrouded in darkness. Randall Flagg either haunts your dreams or has the ability to sway you to his darkness. Those living in fear of Flagg soon find a light to battle his dark, as Mother Abigail arrives in their dreams to show them where to head for safety. The country is torn into two camps. Randall Flagg versus Mother Abigail. Evil versus good. Who will win in this post-apocalyptic world?

I repeat: someone made a mistake. And now they’re trying to cover it up. Madness. Madness. Of course the news something like this will get out, and it won’t take long. And in the meantime, how many will die?

The opening of THE STAND drops you into the outbreak of Captain Trips. King masterfully takes the reader on a journey through the country, getting you acquainted with the individuals who will become main characters to the story, as well as revealing instances of the disease affecting others. One of my favorite chapters during this set-up stage of the novel was focused on people who had managed to survive death by Captain Trips, but ended up not making it because of something else. There were some extremely entertaining incidents that had me laughing out loud. Any time an author can bring humor to a serious subject like this, wins points in my book.

No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.
Or you don’t.

As the novel progresses the reader is able to deeply connect with each main character as King chooses to focus chapters exclusively on one or a small party of these individuals. In typical King style he lured me into loving a character that he just couldn’t let make it to the end! I swear my heart is never safe with King! Despite the uncertainty of the fate of these characters, you find yourself either cheering for them or wishing Captain Trips would have just wiped them from the face of the Earth. Don’t worry though, those people have what’s coming for them! Also, if you’re curious, my favorite characters are Stu, Frannie, Nick, Tom, and Kojak. I even ended up liking Larry, which members of the read along I participated in will know…I was not a fan immediately! Least favorite character award definitely goes to Harold Lauder!

The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there…and still on your feet.

In an attempt not to give too much away I’m going to wrap up this review by saying…go read THE STAND! I know it’s huge. I know it’s daunting. I know you won’t find your groove until you commit a few hundred pages. It’s so worth it!!! THE STAND captured my interest, had me freaked out, broke my heart, made me laugh, and just all around solidified why I fell in love with Stephen King this year.

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