The Stand by Stephen King
Under the California desert and subsidized by the taxpayers’ money, someone had finally invented a chain letter that really worked. A very lethal chain letter. -The Stand
Happy Friday everyone! I hope your weekend brings you nothing but smiles, coziness, and good books 🙂
I want to talk today about an audio book I listened to recently. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I usually prefer reading a physical book, but lately audio books have been a real life saver (in the car, at work, etc). The book I listened to is a Stephen King favorite, The Stand. Now I realize that not everyone is into the horror genre, and I don’t blame you; some of King’s books are just downright creepy. I can’t say that this one is any less so, but it was a little different than other King books I have read. Another side-note before I delve into the actual book, there are a couple different versions. King first published this book in 1978. According to him, he was forced to cut out about 400 pages of content before publishing due to the inability to sell a book of that size at a cost that would be worth its production. So the first version is a little light on content. He was given the opportunity in 1991 to republish the book to the length of his choosing. He added back in much of the content he had previously taken out, reworked some characters and added others. I read the latest, unabridged version. I would recommend that one; having not read the first, I couldn’t imagine having the characters or story line be any other way. That being said, it is SUPER long. The audio version was over 47 hours and according to Goodreads, the paper version is 1153 pages, so be prepared to be in for the long haul. If audio books are your thing, I loved the narrator and would recommend doing it that way so that you can break it up and it doesn’t seem so daunting. He does a great (and not cheesy) representation of each character, making it easier to differentiate and follow the story. If you like a long challenge, then by all means brave the book!
So now to the actual story. The Stand starts off with a mega virus being let loose on the world erroneously. Unfortunately for the human race, it is fatal and spreads quickly. Good news: the virus doesn’t kill off everyone. People rally together to try and survive. Bad news: bad people survive too and evil rallies together as well. King follows several characters throughout the book, showing each person’s perspectives and trials as they adjust to this post-apocalyptic world. He follows both good and evil characters, giving the reader (listener) a very full, detailed view of what is happening to the survivors, on both sides. Each character struggles with something different and the character development is incredibly detailed. You really get a sense of who each person is (or is becoming).
Everyone in the post virus world is plagued with dreams. Terrible, horrifying nightmares warn survivors of an evil that has rooted itself in the West. Dreams of hope are also had, leading some survivors together in order to fight the evil that is growing.
What it boils down to is good versus evil. Religious rhetoric and imagery governs the narrative, classically pitting God versus Satan, represented by characters in the story. Disclaimer, this book can be gruesome and gory at times. If you have read any of Stephen King’s books (or even seen any of the movies that have been made based on them) you know that his imagination is pretty twisted at times. If you haven’t had the pleasure of being scared out of your mind or creeped out by Stephen King, this might be a good opportunity to do so. Despite being repulsed and horrified on several occasions, I found this story very compelling. There are so many stories within this one that you really get attached to some of the characters. There is love, redemption, revenge, suspense, and hope all wrapped up into one big book. He really takes the time to develop the characters and story line in such a way that you get pulled in. That may seem like a given for a good writer, but if you are going to invest your time to read or listen to this long of a book, in my opinion, it better be very well developed and worth it; this one does not disappoint.
If you like this genre, or enjoy the occasional Stephen King, or really just like those good old good versus evil stories, and you don’t mind an enormously long book, pick up (or download) The Stand. For being as long and creepy as it was, I really enjoyed it, and would venture to say this is my favorite Stephen King book I have read.
Has anyone read this one, or the originally published version? I would be interested in hearing what the differences are between the two. Any other Stephen King fans out there have any other must reads by him? I have read a couple, and don’t read them that often, but would gladly take other recommendations!
As always, thank you for stopping by and happy reading!