… Captain Trips, a devastating flu virus that wipes out 99% of the American population? This marks the beginning of Stephen King’s epic fantasy/horror novel, The Stand, and let me tell you, this one is a doozy. The uncut version is between 1100 and 1400 pages long, depending on which edition you read, but believe me when I say that this story is well worth the effort.
The basic story involves a flu virus that wipes out most of the American people. Only a few survivors are left in the deserted country, and slowly, they begin to band together. But at the heart of the apocalypse are two opposing forces: Mother Abagail, a 108-year-old black woman from Nebraska, and Randall Flagg, the “dark man” who haunts the dreams of the plague survivors. As the survivors are drawn towards either Mother Abagail or Randall Flagg, a great confrontation between good and evil begins to coalesce, bringing a small group of men into the desert to face the growing forces of Randall Flagg.
This is a really hard book to classify - on the one hand, it’s full of apocalyptic horror, and Randall Flagg is one of the best-developed villains in any of Stephen King’s works. On the other hand, the ultimate confrontation between good and evil, as well as the epic journey the characters must take, suggest elements of fantasy. And on the OTHER hand (yes, that’s three hands now), this is just a really well-told story that goes beyond known genres.
The main drawback to the book is its extraordinary length, but the characters are so well developed and the story is so interesting that it never feels slow or boring. In fact, I’d even go so far as to call this a FAST read…it certainly kept me turning the pages late at night.
Even if you’re not a fantasy or a horror fan, I highly, highly recommend this book. This is Stephen King at his best, and it’s a perfect example of why he’s considered one of the world’s premiere story-tellers.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)