The Stand is an epic, apocalyptic horror and fantasy book of 'master of suspense' Stephen King. After the great plague, an outbreak of a virus, there are but a handful of survivors on the Earth. They have to survive in a mostly empty world. Soon it becomes clear that to survive, they will also have to choose between good and evil, between Mother Abagail and Randall Flagg. Both Mother Abagail and Randall Flagg have their own ways to get people to approach them and to convince them that their side is the best choice. Ultimately, all survivors have made their choice and the final battle can begin.
The Stand is an epic tale of conviction and sacrifice, about the choices people have to make and the consequences those choices have. About anger, rage and love ... This has to be one of the best Stephen King novels, if not the best. For us at Books To Read it only compares to It in the oeuvre of Stephen King in scope and in the impression it makes on readers. Other works of King that could be described as fantasy are The Gunslinger and The Talisman.
A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.
(This edition includes all of the new and restored material first published in The Stand: The Complete And Uncut Edition.)
Book reviewIn 1978, science fiction writer Spider Robinson wrote a scathing review of The Stand in which he exhorted his readers to grab strangers in bookstores and beg them not to buy it.
The Stand is like that. You either love it or hate it, but you can't ignore it. Stephen King's most popular book, according to polls of his fans, is an end-of-the-world scenario: a rapidly mutating flu virus is accidentally released from a U.S. military facility and wipes out 99 and 44/100 percent of the world's population, thus setting the stage for an apocalyptic confrontation between Good and Evil.
"I love to burn things up," King says. "It's the werewolf in me, I guess.... The Stand was particularly fulfilling, because there I got a chance to scrub the whole human race, and man, it was fun! ... Much of the compulsive, driven feeling I had while I worked on The Stand came from the vicarious thrill of imagining an entire entrenched social order destroyed in one stroke."
There is much to admire in The Stand: the vivid thumbnail sketches with which King populates a whole landscape with dozens of believable characters; the deep sense of nostalgia for things left behind; the way it subverts our sense of reality by showing us a world we find familiar, then flipping it over to reveal the darkness underneath. Anyone who wants to know, or claims to know, the heart of the American experience needs to read this book. --Fiona Webster