YOU GUYS, HI. THIS BOOK WAS SO THIS BOOK. WHAT WORDS TO USE I DO NOT KNOW. MUCH FLOUNDERING. BOOK HAS CREATED NOOK FOR ITSELF IN BRAIN AND IMPRINTED DEMON SHADOW IN NEURAL CELLS FOREVER. CAUSES TO TYPE ALL CAPS OH NO.
Okay, I’ll stop now. But seriously. THIS BOOK, THIS @(*&#$%* BOOK.
I have been meaning to read The Stand for yearrrrs now, but I kept putting it off. Ever since I discovered about four to five years ago that Stephen King’s storytelling was my jam (after years of being convinced I would hate it, because scary), it’s been sitting there like a tricksy little book demon on my shelf, all small and fat. I kept putting it off and putting it off, though, because I knew once I started it I’d be sucked in, and I also knew it would scare me, and also that it would be a huge time investment. I mean, I read pretty fast, but still. I generally like to finish a book in 2-3 days at most. This one is a seven-dayer, minimum. (And so of course I followed it up by reading two other chunkers like a dummy, one of many reasons I only read seven books in June.)
It was worth it.
I haven’t read many books that truly deserve to be described as “Epic” with a capital ‘E’, but this is definitely one of them. From the opening salvos of the plague, we watch from the inside as civilization dies, and the survivors start a journey none of them really understand, all of which culminates in a fight between good and evil that somehow manages to avoid feeling predictable or trite. In fact, quite the opposite. The Stand is a book that effortlessly straddles the line between inevitability and predictability, and intimate character work with an epic scope. And Randall Flagg as villain struck exactly the right balance for me, because King got to have his cake and eat it, too. He got the larger than life baddie, and yet he also got to have villains with real human motivations, because in the end it’s not really about Mother Abagail vs. Randall Flagg, it’s about what they represent in humanity. Each character chooses for themselves.
Of course, it’s not a perfect book. I don’t understand the function of Nadine as a character at all, and she was a significant part of the narrative. The whole time I was reading, she made me want to pull my hair out because I didn’t understand her motivations at all. (As opposed to Harold, who even at his most despicable, was always understandable.) It’s also very much a product of its time, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you judge it in context and not by today’s standards. No doubt King would have written it differently had it been published in 2016 instead of 1978 (though I read the uncut 1990 version, updated with creepy pop culture references that make it seem as if King is some sort of unholy time-traveler or cassandra, able to predict the future, and wasting it on predicting Freddy Krueger).
So one down of The Big Three, two to go. It will probably be at least a couple of years before I’m brave enough to tackle It or The Shining. But I’m definitely starting The Dark Tower soon now that I’ve read this, ‘Salem’s Lot and The Eyes of the Dragon. I AM READY. (I’m not ready.)