My Doorstopper Book Of The Year: Stephen King’s The Stand
Wednesday, 25th July, 2012 § 1 Comment
This is one title of King’s that seem to divide his fans in the middle, between those who loved it and those who hated it. I’m of the former. King’s strength, as I’ve stated before in other reviews of his book, lies in his ability to weave a tale that would make the reader be interested in his protagonists (and in this case, some of his antagonists as well). The Stand isn’t about the man-made plague that destroys most of Earth’s population but it’s about how the survivors cope with the aftermath. Some join the Good Guys while others quite willingly embrace the Dark Side. The horrors aren’t many in this book. Oh they exist, make no mistake but if you expect a scary “BOO!” scene every chapter you would be sorely disappointed. King throws his characters into the deep end so to speak and force them to swim or sink in a world that goes from normal to utter chaos within a week in summer. People with quiet lives, jerks with sycophantic friends, psychos on a killing spree, all find themselves in an unfamiliar situation without any authorities to guide, lead or admonish them. And then every time the survivors go to sleep they are beset by dreams about an old woman and a tall dark man. Each calling the survivors to come join them.
I read the expanded, Director’s Cut version that comes in around 1300+ pages and while real-world responsibilities often interrupted my reading (which is why it took me more than a month to finish it), I never lost interest in the story. That’s testament to King’s writing. There were some parts where I seemed to skim…it was when the Good Guys started forming a committee and did nothing but talk…but that was probably my personal loathing of committee based decision making. Does that mean if events in The Stand came true I would be one of those who would join the Dark Man? After all, he didn’t bother with meetings and elections. He just got the electricity running again and the schools opened. Although he brought back crucifixion as a deterrent to breaking his law. A bit harsh I thought. But then again, it was a harsh post-apocalyptic world.
Oh God, I am leaning towards the Dark Side!!
(Post-script: like some of King’s novels this one is all about the journey and not so much about the destination. By that I mean the climactic scene where the bad guy gets his comeuppance is a bit anti-climactic. A literal dues ex machina. I think Stephen King just said, “Aw, to hell with it. Just end this book!”)