Was it crazy or brilliant to read a book about a superflu in 2020? On the one hand, *vague gesture to the world outside my apartment*, but on the other, it was a healthy reminder that things could be worse. Captain Trips, the colloquial name given to King’s lab-created bug, kills nearly all of humanity and most of the dogs after it escapes from an Army facility. Ah, but nearly is the keyword.
Though King takes his time walking through the spread of Captain Trips (in passages that would chill even the most ardent anti-masker) the real bulk of this door-stopping novel concerns the survivors, who rather neatly sort themselves into two groups. There are those who are lured, first to Nebraska and then to Boulder, Colorado, by the 108-year-old Mother Abigail, a benevolent and spiritual woman. Then there are those who fall under the spell of Randall Flagg, aka The Walking Dude, a seeming personification of evil with a number of tricks in his bag.
King creates an unbelievable number of characters, weaving them all into the saga without giving them short shrift. When the action picks up and some of them inevitably fall, their loss really stings due to how well King realized them on the page.
There are times in the 1100-plus pages where the story threatens to settle down in a predictable manner but King always has something in store to shake things up. King even manages to conclude the narrative with a satisfying ending, a seeming rarity in his oeuvre.