The Stand by Stephen King Book Review

The Stand

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The Stand is the fifth work and the longest novel by New York Times bestselling author Stephen King. The American prolific writer has authored more than 60 titles across a myriad of genres — including fantasy, science fiction, crime, suspense, supernatural, and horror fiction, the most notable of which include The Green Mile, Misery, Pet Sematary, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, and Carrie.

With only one bestseller to his name, Stephen King tabled a 1,100-page manuscript, much to the chagrin of his publisher. Worried that the book will intimidate readers, the publisher instructed him to curtail at least 400 pages from the original manuscript. That’s why The Stand was first published as an 800-page book back in 1978, earning an almost instant reputation as one of the best works of post-apocalyptic fiction.

Dubbed the “superflu”, a highly virulent, government-engineered virus has swept through the planet, killing almost everyone, except for just two percent of the population who are immune. The “superflu” is an antigen-shifting virus that can destroy any immune response the body puts up against it.

As the story unfolds, a soldier and his loved ones are fleeing a federal facility that has recently been discovered to be contaminated with the “superflu”, which, surprise surprise, was intended for biological weapon purposes. The ravaging virus ultimately wipes more than 98 percent of the American populace. The immunity does seem to be a gift from either Him (God) or perhaps the Devil.

In the aftermath of the first outbreak of the superflu, a tiny group of survivors vowed to find one another and gang up. Everyone in the band of survivors experiences recurring dreams in which a clairvoyant old black lady instructs them to go to Nebraska, where they’ll find her. She is Abigail, who believes the Almighty God Himself has granted her the mission to gather all the survivors of the virus epidemic in Boulder, Colorado.

Called the Free Zone, this spot in Boulder, Colorado is where the survivors will regroup and prepare to battle with the dark man (aka the Devil). On his end, the so-called Dark Man, originally Randall Flagg, is also in the process of putting together his “evil team” across the Rockies in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Also called the “Walking Dude” or simply “the Devil”, Flagg is a phantom-like man who’s known to walk the highways. He’s setting up a new empire in Vegas where he plans to rule with an iron fist. His hair gives off sparks as he floats in the lotus style. The dark man’s goal is to kill everyone who opposes him and eventually rein over the world.

A small force of survivors is headed to Las Vegas to face off with the Devil under the instructions from God through Abigail. Flagg is seething with rage because he feels that his empire is under attack. He must throw everything at the crew of four fighters from the Free Zone in Boulder, Colorado.

The small force is under the stewardship of an East Texas fellow named Stud Redman. He happens to be deeply in love with Fran, a pregnant lady back in Boulder. The climax of the story details an atomic clash between evil vs. good, with the Bible’s Book of Revelation unfolding line by line in a rather explicit way.

Between the preparation and the actual war, Stephen King packs some of the most unforgettable moments, including the ravaging spread of the superflu, Dark Man’s minions installing new light bulbs throughout Las Vegas, and New York’s 5th Avenue with long traffic of dead vehicles.

King’s The Stand is a post-apocalyptic tale of a world whereby the remaining people must rebuild from the ground up. More importantly, the book is about the conflict between the forces of darkness and light, allowing the story to touch on a number of themes that include the importance of taking a stance against evil.

This is the novel that helped Stephen King cut a name for himself in the world of fiction literature. His writing and plot unfold with unsettling precision, creating a perfect blend of fear and hope sure to keep the reader on the edge until the very end. The Stand covers all of the key facets of post-apocalyptic fiction, making it one of the must-reads for anyone interested in sci-fi, fantasy, horror, or fiction in general.

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