I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Stephen King???s The Stand (1978/90) was an epic (48 hour!) listen. It???s an ambitious novel, a hybrid of post-apocalypse sf like Alas Babylon, epic fantasy like The Lord of the Rings, horror movies like Nightmare on Elm St., and Biblical stories like The Book of Job, all set in a sea of American popular culture. People who like those genres (and don???t mind profanity, sex, violence, and many hours of listening) would like the novel.
The first part depicts the devastating outbreak of a military plague, the second shows the shocked survivors forming groups around two figures seen in dreams, and the third shows the climactic last stand (for now). King writes a suspenseful plot about human and changing characters. At times Frannie is too teary and Glen too much of a Heinlein know-it-all, but I love the sweet, ???mentally retarded??? Tom, the deaf and dumb leader Nick, and the Gary Cooper-esque Texan Stu. The Trashcan Man, Harold, and Nadine are morbidly fascinating, while Randall Flagg (aka the dark man, Satan???s servant, etc.) is a charismatic supernatural antagonist.
Listening to the novel etched many scenes on my imagination, among them Larry and Rita going through the Lincoln Tunnel, Nick and Tom hiding from a tornado, Joe playing the guitar by a fire, Mother Abigail presiding over a feast, the Kid and the Trashcan Man driving towards Vegas, Harold holding a walkie-talkie at dusk, Flagg interviewing Dana, and Larry, Ralph, and Glen doing a very difficult thing at a washout gully, and Tom, Stu, and Kojak sharing Christmas.
Grover Gardner dexterously reads the voices of the many different characters (old and young, male and female, all from different educational, economic, and regional backgrounds) with skill, emotion, and wit. Hearing his Trashcan Man groan to the dark man, ???My life for you,??? or his Kid say, ???You believe that, happy crappy???? or his Tom say, ???M-O-O-N???that spells tired??? etc., or his Flagg croon, ???I love to love Nadine,??? made me walk around imitating them. I can hear them now.
Sometimes King overuses certain phrases (as when ???like a one legged man in an ass-kicking contest??? pops up twice), or his characters??? expressions don???t ring true (as when Frannie writes that Harold is ???a real boogersnot???), or he tosses in one too many popular culture references (as when some tires are as bald as Telly Savalas). But I usually found his style vivid and page turning, and at times funny, scary, or moving.
I dislike The Stand???s cheap association of wolves, weasels, and crows with evil and its moving some of the responsibility for evil away from human beings and towards the devil, but I like its questioning of whether we can escape our fatal tendency towards too much organization, rationality, and technology in favor of free, irrational, and green alternatives: as Stu asks Frannie, ???Do you think people ever learn anything???? and Frannie answers, ???I don???t know.???
I have not read the print version because I am a very busy person just looking at the size of the book frightened me....lol So when I saw it on audio I was very pleased and took it with me to the gym, while I drove from place to place, and then realized I could not stop listening. I listened while I cooked, while in my garden, while I worked.. shhhh and had a hard time turning it off. Very entertaining!!
I have a hard time pin pointing which character is my favorite. I liked Nick Andros and Larry Underwood for the obvious reasons they are the
I highly recommend listening to this book. Very good character development I felt like I knew these people and did not want this story to end. Stephen King is a great writer and Gardner Grover does a great job narrating!!
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
How can you write a review about this AMAZING book and do it justice?
Grover Gardner, The Narrator, was PERFECT, I LOVED him! My biggest worry, when I heard this was finally coming out in Audio was, I wouldn't like the narrator. All for naught.
The story was even better than I remembered it to be, back in 1990. King weaves his fantastic, magic with the stories of the people's lives, and the result is outSTANDing brilliance! If you haven't listened to it. . .you are missing out!
Here is a brief, VERY brief description of the story, for those that have never read it.
Book 1 - Captain Trips
"Captain Trips" is the common name for a human-made superflu known formally as, "Project Blue".
The virus is researched and developed at a U.S. Army base. A biological accident, combined with security malfunctions, allow an infected guard and his family to sneak off the base. This sets off a pandemic that kills 99.4% of the world's population, including some of the domesticated animals.
King describes the destruction of society, widespread violence, virus containment failure, and eventual death of virtually the entire human and animal population.
The few remaining survivors must care for their families and friends, deal with confusion and grief, as their loved ones succumb to the flu and the dead bodies pile up everywhere.
Book 2 - On the Border
"On the Border", tells intertwining stories about the small bands of survivors and their cross-country treks. They're all drawn together by a shared dream, of old woman (Mother Abagail, 106 yrs old) and a Nebraska corn field, whom they see as a safe haven and representation of "The Good".
Another group of survivors are drawn to Las Vegas by "the Dark Man", known as Randall Flagg. Flagg, a tyrant and brute, uses crucifixion, dismemberment, and other gruesome forms of torture as punishment for those who are disloyal and disobedient. He is evil with supernatural powers and exists in the story, to represent the opposite side of Mother Abagail, "The Evil".
Book 3 - The Stand
In book 3, the stage becomes set for the final confrontation as the two groups become aware of one another, and each recognizes the other as a threat to its survival, leading to "The Stand" of good against evil.
The good guys set off on foot towards Las Vegas on an expedition to confront Randall Flagg for the final battle between men.
Can the human race can learn from its mistakes?
Nothing's better than a great Stephen King novel and this is the mother of all Kings novels. I've waited for years for this audiobook, and I must say this audiobook was worth the wait. Grover Gardener is absolutely excellent. Kings characters come alive with Gardener's narration.
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
Life, Death, Religion, and Civilization; lofty topics to tackle in a thriller. It's no surprise that Stephen King deftly rises to the challenge and delivers an epic of...well...epic proportions.
The most impressive thing about this novel in my opinion is the fact that there was no point in the 48 hour novel that felt like the story was stalled or lagging. The plot kept moving forward; slowly, patiently, but with great skill and expertise. I was especially fascinated by the themes of civilization and religion; I found myself deconstructing and analyzing many of my own thoughts on these topics. I've always been of the opinion that Stephen King is a genius, but if I'd had any doubts, this book would have put them to rest.
SO: Deep, thoughtful, chilling, entertaining, fun... there's the good news.
Don't worry - there's no "bad" news, per se.. more like mediocre. For such a famous, long anticipated tome such as this, you would think it would be insured that the narration was second to none; and that's not how I found it. It was fine, and it didn't ruin the book; I still recommend this wholeheartedly. Mr. Gardner did a good job creating the different voices of the characters, and for the most part kept them straight, which I'm sure was no small task. Still, I've experienced enough spectacular readers that this was a let down. Finally, and most egregious, Mr. Gardner would (from time to time) mispronounce a word that had no business being mispronounced. I was really surprised these errors could have made it through to the finished product.
Still, if hearing saguaro pronounced with a hard "G" doesn't set your nerves on edge, you'll be fine; and even if it does, the performance as a whole is not bad.
Overall, I really, really enjoyed this one. Thanks, Mr. King.
This version of the Stand is King's "author's cut" which contains 200 pages more than the originally published version. There are 2 separate prologues, and in one King admits that he's been criticized for "verbal diarrhea". I would say that is an understatement. This book spends hours developing characters that I never liked and developing elements that end up getting abruptly stunted for no plot-advancing reason. I think it was meant to be an American story showing the diversity of the country, but King describes everything with the same lame language, and all the characters (diverse though they are) act in the same stupid ways. Another irksome element is the fact that King insists on referencing pop songs and other literature, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't do it one after another. Several chapters begin with 6 different quotes from songs I hate to hear on the radio anyway. At several points he references other famous books for seemingly no reason. By the time I reached the end, it was abrupt and random. There were a few moments of horror, but all in all, The Stand reads like a soap opera--a long long long long long soap opera.
Stephen King should've edited this book down by at least half.
This is just a personal bias, I didn't like his voice, it was somewhat nasal.
**SPOILER** Nadine, the "Bride of the Devil," is a character we could have done without. Her character gets built up to be the mother of the anti-christ for the whole book, and when she finally meets the antagonist and is impregnated, she is then quickly thrown out a window to her doom. Why all the hoopla and build-up about her and her prophesied son when in the end they make no difference to the story?
so many hours for so little story. I wish King's Plague had killed everyone at the beginning and saved me the effort of making it through this story.
This is difficult for me to accurately judge. The story is a favorite of mine, and has been since it's original release. I have read the book several times. The audio part of it was good, not exceptional, I don't feel like the audio enhanced my perceptions of the story, but it was enjoyable. There are books I have listened to in audio, that I hadn't read first, which were a more enjoyable/satisfying experience.
Stu of course. And Frannie, though this narration makes her sound a bit like a twit. I like Stu's stoicism and resolve, how he is fragile but strong, and his character grows through out the story. I like that he gains confidence in himself, and their path, while retaining the ability to question his motives. Frannie, as read in the book, seems real, like someone I know, or perhaps even a part of me, as a daughter, a young adult and an impeding mother. I identified with her because most of her decisions are ones i think I would have made in the same circumstances. SPOILER Except I would have spoken up about Harold. The end of the world is no play to worry about hurting someones feelings.
I didn't like the performance. At most times it was only tolerable, others it was irritating. He delivered the majority of the narration is a strange monotone, only occasionally injecting some life into the words. His accents made all the men sound like "Oklahoma sod-busters" and the women like whiny and helpless, or hard. I found myself practicing lines out loud as I listened. The story is so rich and multilayered, it deserved an exceptional narrator, not mediocre one it received. Harsh, I know, but the truth in my opinion. If I hadn't known the story, I doubt I would have finished all 48 hours. That is looooong time to listen to a voice you do not enjoy.
No. And at 48 hours, it would have been impossible.
Mr. King... please make an effort to find better narrators for your work. I have listened to two books, one narrated by yourself and this one. On narration alone, I cannot recommend eithr, though you did a better job than Mr. Gardner.
The Walking Dude
The confrontation on the highway between Stu and Franny's party and the ex-military "Zookeepers" had a lot of tension.
Great job at doing multiple voice characters convincingly. I really grew to love his performance of "The Kid".
I thought Larry Underwood was really well done. His backstory was fleshed out so well that you really feel like you know the character.
I seem to be drawn to the post-apocalyptic genre when listening to fiction nowadays. I never read the print version, so this 'extended' version is the first I've had a chance to hear this story. I also haven't read much Steven King, but was eager to hear his take on this seemingly more-and-more popular subject. The story has been referenced in other media that I've seen over the years (e.g. the 80s metal band Anthrax's 'Among the Living'), so I'm surprised it took me this long to get to it.
The story was very good. Not terrific, but very good. In a nutshell, a genetically-engineered super-flu wipes out 98% of the world's population, and the remaining souls coalesce around two leaders: one devout ("Grandma Abigale") and one evil ("Randall Flagg / The Walking Dude"). There are multiple characters and story arcs, but I liked the fact that we are present from the very beginning of the epidemic, up through the inevitable cover-up and breakdown of society, and through to the ultimate final confrontation. There is a lot of exposition not just on the nature of good and evil, but of the sociological implications of the disaster, and I appreciated these digressions.
Those who like George R. R. Martin's 'Game of Thrones' will also appreciate the sheer scope of the story, and the large number of characters involved. I think the size of the story alone with these type of novels allows the reader a more complete look at each character, and makes for a better overall reading experience.
Ultimately, the end of the story made me wish I could hear more about these people, and I suppose that's the mark of an engaging story.