There are few things better than a good story well told!
Lots of people have reviewed this book already so I will just aim my comments to those (like me) who hesitate to get this because of the cartoonish cover art and well the whole zombies thing. I like zombie fiction but eventually it does get pretty predictable. This book is not your typical run and shoot zombies take over the world tale. It is not a gratuitous gore-fest. The story has multiple layers, science, mysteries within mysteries, strong characters, and intrigue that will keep you guessing and glued to your earphones to the last word. Yes, it is that good. And Ray Porter’s performance is flawless perfection.
A classic tale of horror with detailed descriptions of flaying. If you can get past that, the story is engaging, dripping with dark atmosphere and dread.
The second episode finds the research team deep in the Amazon jungle. The action is quick and the team quickly dwindles. The writing isn't bad but sometimes less really is more. IMHO, drawing out the suspense over a few scary incidents might have been more effective than trying to include every jungle cliche ever imagined. I did enjoy part two but it could have been better. Looking forward to episode three.
Just one other note. It was somewhat annoying that part three of the story was available a week before part two. Be sure you are listening to the books in the right order.
WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT?
The story begins with a virus killing 99% of the population. We meet several survivors in separate towns. They stay in town a while, then begin traveling on motorcycles, bicycles, or walking. The travelers start out alone or with one other person. Along the way they join with others. A man called Randall Flagg is creating his own empire, dictator style, with evil intentions. His headquarters are in Las Vegas, Nevada. Survivors with criminal tendencies are drawn toward Flagg. Good folks are drawn to Boulder, Colorado, where they form a community called the Free Zone.
Before I read any Stephen King, I thought most of his books would be about monsters, horror, screaming, slashing - things in horror movies. I was wrong. I’m finding a lot of depth and interesting character development. His bad guys are not all that different from some of the serial killers in mainstream crime fiction and thrillers.
The Stand has some paranormal, not a lot. Several characters have psychic dreams or a psychic sense at times. The Stand is one of Stephen’s longest books. The paperback is 1439 pages. I was never bored. I became attached to the characters. In the preface Stephen says “When I speak (which is as rarely as possible), people always speak to me about The Stand. They discuss the characters as though they were living people, and ask frequently, “What happened to so-and-so?”... as if I got letters from them every now and again.” Personally I feel that way. I’d like to think about the characters in the future.
Stephen makes everyday conversations interesting. There are many characters in this book, but it didn’t feel like too many. We are with a guy in Arkansas for 25 pages, then a guy in New York for 12 pages, then a woman in Maine for 11 pages. I like a linear time line and I like scenes with natural endings. And most of the time the scenes met these requirements. My biggest problem with Stephen’s book “It” was stopping scenes in the middle of action and jumping around in time. I’m pleased to see the author used “better methods” in this book.
This is a post apocalyptic world. By the end of the book some of the good guys die, but others have happy endings. Normally I would avoid books with this setup because I don’t want to be depressed. Other authors might tell this story with deep digging into grief and loss. This book was not done that way. I was pleased that I was not depressed.
I was pleased to see a romance. A couple meets, they eventually get together, and have a happy ending. For those whose don’t like abusive husbands, you’ll like this. This is the way guys should be. He cares for her happiness.
There is a homosexual rape scene in detail. Also there is a telling (after the fact) of women held against their will and repeatedly raped.
This is the expanded edition published in 1990. Much was cut for the 1978 edition. Stephen added back cut parts and a lot of new writing for the 1990 edition. I would not want to read the cut version.
IS IT PERFECT? NO.
I had a few questions that were not answered, such as why Flagg was losing his powers, and what was the purpose of the pregnancy. Also I did not like Flagg’s ending. I wanted something worse to happen to him.
The narrator Grover Gardner did an excellent job.
Genre: apocalyptic paranormal fiction
Ending: happy for many of the good guys, bad for most of the bad guys