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Avg. Rating: 4.58
A Flawed Diamond
This isn't one of King's typical horror stories. This book goes beyond that; it takes on some of the most important religous, psychological, and social issues of our time. There's a double meaning behind the title: Stephen King himself is taking a Stand on these issues that we've all been debating. Because of the implications, this novel is vast in scope and stretches beyond the borders of its covers. But is it King's best? No. Here's why:
First off, the novel is slow. The beginning of the book is dedicated to the spread of the plague. Then it shows the survivors grouping under two leaders: Randall Flagg in the west and a 108-year-old black woman named Mother Abagail in the east. It's a long while before the heroes actually depart to make their Stand against Flagg. And also, the novel is filled with too much talking to my liking, mostly philosophical stuff (In other words, not enough action). (SPOILER SECTION) Secondly, I HATE deus ex machina, and that is what this ending is. Thirdly, the very end makes everything that happened in this book seem for nothing. It basically said that time is circular. The last sentence of the book went something like this: "Time was a wheel, and it always came around to the same place again." Time is linear, it is it is IT IS! Just look at our own history and you can see as much. Fourthly, there are many abandoned plot threads: 1)There's a scene in which Mother Abagail realizes that an Eye(Flagg) is looking for everybody that would come to her, and one little girl. Who was this little girl? We never find out. At first I thought it might be Frannie's baby, but no, that turned out to be a male. 2)What was so important about the child Flagg conceived on Nadine? We never find that out, either. 3)Why was Flagg losing his powers toward the end? This is never revealed, unless it's just deus ex machina again. Also, Flagg's psyche is never fully explored; I can only get a vague picture of him. 4)What happened to Leo Rockway that turned him into a murdering savage? And why did he have such a special perception? The book doesn't say. 5)Toward the end, it seemed that Tom Cullen had an important part to play, but he didn't. Yeah he saved Stu but it didn't change anything major in the story. We never find out what was so special about him or how he relates to the moon, M-O-O-N, that spells abandoned plot threads, and an author isn't supposed to abandon his plot threads, laws yes, everybody knows that! 6)And more important than any of the others, WHAT stand was there? If everyone had stayed in Boulder the outcome would have been the same, because it was Trashcan Man that did everything. Basically, Larry, Glen, and Ralph all died for nothing. (END OF SPOILER SECTION)
Those things listed above greatly flawed this novel. But, the depth of the story and King's great characterization would not allow me to drop the rating to less than 3.5 stars. This book had the potential to be his brightest gem, but, in the end, it just didn't cut it. I think King knew how to start this story but he just didn't know how to finish it properly.
A frightening, realistic epic
This is the story of a group of people, each carefully drawn, travelling across the United States after an apocalyptic epidemic. In the expanded version, you get a few scenes showing how the apocalypse was released from its bottle. You also get a lot more background on the principal characters. The characters gather together and, as they try to rebuild their lives, they realize they have to confront a supernatural evil if they are going to survive.
I always liked this novel becuase, as I read it, I could tell that Stephen King believed every word of it. He doesn't stop to apologize for his wild ideas, or to explain how any of this could happen. When the survivors try to build a community, King explores frontier democracy through them. He doesn't flinch for an instant, doubting that he can switch from horror to politics. He just keeps going.
The expanded edition makes the ending much better. A few characters have to take a journey into the badlands to take their stand. In this edition, you get the whole journey, which gives the climax more context. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially people who have never read Stephen King before.
Making my Stand!
The Stand by Stephen King has been considered by many to be one of his greatest works. Sadly in my opinion this is very far from the truth. The enormous novel starts off as a simple story of catastrophe. The human race is infected by a plague is is quickly dieing at the waysides. Without giving too much away, this does not remain to be the main premise of the book and eventually it shifts to a story about the battle between the force of God and an a dark force led by "the walking dude".
I will get the good comments out of the way to begin with. The original premise of mankind dealing with a horrible plague is quite terrifying and Stephen King does depict this quite well. The does make the first 400 pages of the book go by quite fast. His character development is phenomenal to the point of pain, giving long-winded chapters describing characters that end up being unimportant and "short" living. That is my biggest complaint, the story was simply to long. Comprised of three books ranging from 200 to 500 pages a piece, it seems as though King cannot decide what story he is trying to tell. He pulls in new characters whenever he pleases and then just as quickly trows them into the trash bin. King makes the reader watch character after character grow and change and work , only to see them die abruptly and accomplish little to nothing. He spends hundreds of pages on seemingly pointless details, only to have major plot twists whizz by in a page or less. I found the ending most discouraging, which left the reader with the vague feeling that nothing of any significance had occurred in the last 1150 pages. Simply put, I would not suggest this book to anyone who I cared for in the least bit. I found it time consuming and pointless, and the only redeeming quality I have unearthed is that I managed to read five other books while trudging through this monstrosity. So if you wish to read King, I would suggest the Gunslinger instead.
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