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Book: The Stand

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I just finished the complete and uncut version of the The Stand. Luckily, I had a plane trip to and from Ireland to get me started, though even that wasn't enough to get me through the whole book. It's generally not insightful to start off by discussing the book's length rather than it's content, but at 1100+ pages, it's something you notice. The more important aspect of the book, though, is whether or not those 1100+ pages are worthwhile, and for the most part, I think that they are.

Part Lord of the Rings, and the rest feeling like a prequel to Gunslinger, the book did a good job of propelling me through the pages. At first, I was expecting your run-of-the-mill virus-wipes-everyone out story, and as I trudged through the introduction of the complete set of strangers that will all eventually meet through the author's contrivings, it didn't feel like the story was getting much of anywhere very fast. A third of the way through the book, I wasn't really looking forward to making it through the rest.

Then the book started to shift into weirder territory. The realm of science began to evaporated, and in the vacuum a mystical world started to emerge. At first I was put off; for me, the gap between scientific/rational thought and that of magical world is not easily traversed within the same context, so I was thrown ajar. Then I realized that it's a King novel; of course it was going to leave the realm of the rational. The similarities with The Gunslinger also helped pull me through the transition.

The next thing I knew, I had torn through the next third of the book, and I hardly recollected any time passing for the last third as well. I started off by saying that starting off with a discussion of a book length was a bad way to judge a book, but I believe that stating that I was pulled through the last two-thirds of a 1100+ page book is a good way of saying, "It was a darn good read."

It's a book that can foretell it's end, and yet still fill you with suprises. In fact, King frequently tells you exactly what is going to happen in the future, and then demonstrates that he can still do a great job telling you what happens between now and then. I'm not sure I liked the books overall sense of fatalism, but as a storytelling device King made it work.

This is the best King novel I've read, though I confess that I've only read this and the first two novels of the Dark Tower series.

Comments (1)

Anonymous:

The Stand was one of my favorite books growing up, as were the Dark Tower series. If you read them in order(he just released the 6th of 7), you can really see his progression as a writer. Not to mention he wrote the first one at like 19 or 20, which means he had the general idea for the intense series at a really young age.

Also, living in Boulder and re-reading the Stand is just plain creepy.

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