Monday, December 23, 2013
Title: The Stand
Author: Stephen King
Synopsis: This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
Why did I pick it up?: So many reasons. It's one of my sister's favorite books, I remember enjoying the miniseries with Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald, and I found it used at a local bookstore.
Favorite Line(s): "Culture lag, he thought distractedly, what fun it all is."
"She couldn't be on his wavelength all the time. When you could recognize that and deal with it, you were on your way to an adult relationship."
"Just the act of cooking made her feel better, because cooking was life."
"Love didn't grow very well in a place where there was only fear, just as plants didn't grow very well in a place where it was always dark."
"Baby, can you dig your man?"
Things I do not recommend
1. Touching hot stoves
2. Wearing overalls if you are not under 10, pregnant, or employed in a profession where they are deemed appropriate such as general construction.
4. Reading The Stand during Flu Season.
I do highly recommend that you read The Stand just at any other time of year. I enjoy King's writing but he can scare me into convulsions which is not good for someone living alone with just their dog. I should mention that far from being a protective guard dog, my fur child is afraid of storms, loud noises and any kind of mechanical whirring like when buses lower their handicap ramps. Most recently, he developed a fear of walking to the coffee shop as there is an overpass. Sometimes when we cross the overpass he freaks out and tries to dive into oncoming traffic. In his canine brain that seems like a safer option.
The Stand is a full account of the apocalypse caused by the Super Flu epidemic that wipes out 99.4% of the world's population. The highly contagious flu strand was developed in an underground government lab in California and is accidentally released. That's where the story begins and King explains how the Super Flu spreads across the US and into other countries. For the first few hundred pages characters are surrounded by people who cough, sneeze, and complain of exhaustion with watery eyes. (I read all about that while waiting to get my Flu Shot and riding the crowded T full of sniffling Bostonians.)
Another thing happening in those first few hundred pages is the courting of characters by the forces of good and evil. Mother Abigail in Nebraska is 108 years old, a devout believer in God and the Devil, and represents the good side. Randall Flagg aka The Dark Man aka The Walkin' Dude sets up his base in Las Vegas just in case there was any question about his being the personification evil or a sociopath or the Antichrist. Characters dream of Mother Abigail and The Dark Man and are pulled towards one or the other. It's not clear where all the characters will end up and that kept me turning the pages.
If you are someone who wants to know the whole story, you'll appreciate The Stand. It's a lengthy book, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Nothing seemed extraneous. There are a lot of characters and about 10 of them have their own point of view chapters. My friends and I would say that is, "very Game-of-Thrones-y". Yes, we've read all the books and know the series is A Song of Ice and Fire.
My Recommendation: Fans of apocalyptic stories will enjoy this. If there's a Walking Dead fan left on your Christmas shopping list, they might like it too.
For Next Week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman