Book Review: The Stand by Stephen King

Book Review: The Stand by Stephen King

Book Review: The Stand by Stephen King

By: Justin Davis, Indiana Room Digital Assistant

If novels like Salem’s Lot and It established Stephen King as one of America’s best known writers of horror, then The Stand cemented him as one of our country’s best living storytellers. Totaling over eight hundred pages, and even more by some editions, it is a long, challenging book. However, if the audience has patience, they’ll be rewarded by its’ excellent story, characters, and themes.

It tells the story of a genetically enhanced superflu, that after being accidentally released into the world, wipes out almost the entire human race.  The reader witnesses the gradual breakdown of society, until there is nothing left except a small group of survivors. Many of those left alive begin dreaming of a kind hearted old lady in Nebraska, while others begin to dream of a wicked man in Las Vegas. Depending on their vision, they seek out the individual from their dreams and begin to separate into two distinct groups. The Las Vegas society quickly becomes a fascistic society with blind devotion to their leader, and the Nebraska group develops into more of an egalitarian democracy.

The Stand has some of the most memorable character of any of Stephen King’s books. Larry Underwood is a musician who finally made his big break before the outbreak of the superflu, and has to constantly fight against his own selfishness in order to help himself and others stay alive. Fran Goldsmith is a young college student who is carrying her unborn child and struggling to survive in the wake of the flu. And then there is Randall Flag, the toweringly villainous antagonist of the story who has since appeared in numerous books by the author. There are many other characters as well that spring alive from the pages.

In addition to being one of Stephen King’s longest books, it is also one of his most thematically rich stories. It is a novel about who people are deep down, the meaning of personal destiny, and a careful analysis of the nature of malevolence. Of course, different readers will take away different meanings than me though, and because of that, I encourage you to visit the Hamilton East Public Library and check out this excellent novel.

 

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