The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King


4.34  ·  Rating details ·  480,421 Ratings  ·  14,149 Reviews
The Stand by Stephen King
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

“That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.”

“Show me a man or a woman alone and I'll show you a saint. Give me two and they'll fall in love. Give me three and they'll invent the charming thing we call 'society'. Give me four and they'll build a pyramid. Give me five and they'll make one an outcast. Give me six and they'll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they'll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side.

Or you don't.”

“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.”

“People who try hard to do the right thing always seem mad.”



 

Reviews


You know what’s really scary? Getting sick while you’re reading the first part of The Stand. Just try running a fever, going through a box of tissues and guzzling the better part of a bottle of NyQuil while Stephen King describes the grisly deaths of almost every one on Earth from a superflu. On top of feeling like crap, you'll be terrified. Bonus!

After a bio-engineered virus that acts like a revved up cold escapes from a U.S. government lab, it takes only weeks for almost all of humanity to succumb to the disease. A handful of survivors are mysteriously immune and begin having strange dreams, some of which are about a very old woman called Mother Abigail asking them to come see her. More disturbing are nightmares about a mysterious figure named Randall Flagg also known as the Dark Man or the Walkin’ Dude.

As they make their way through an America almost entirely devoid of people, the survivors begin to unite and realize that the flu was just the beginning of their problems. While some are drawn to the saintly Mother Abigail in Boulder Colorado who tells them that they have been chosen by God, others have flocked to Flagg in Las Vegas who is determined to annihilate all those who refuse to pledge their allegiance to him.

If King would have just written a book about a world destroyed by plague and a small number of people struggling in the aftermath, it probably would have been a compelling story. What sets this one apart is the supernatural element. Flagg is the embodiment of evil and chaos. He's a mysterious figure who has been giving the wrong people the push needed for them to make things worse for everyone, and he sees the plague as his chance to fulfill his own destiny as a wrecker of humanity.

And on the other side, we have God. Yep, that God. The Big Cheese himself. But this isn’t some kindly figure in a white robe with a white beard or George Burns or Morgan Freeman. This is the Old Testament God who demands obedience and worship while usually rewarding his most faithful servants with gruesome deaths.

King calls this a tale of dark Christianity in his forward, and one of the things I love about this book is that it does feel like a Biblical story, complete with contradictions and a moves-in-mysterious-ways factor. Stories don’t get much more epic than this, and King does a great job of depicting the meltdown of the world through the stories of a variety of relateable characters. (Larry Underwood remains among my favorite King creations.)

One of my few complaints is that this features a lot of King’s anti-technology themes that he’d use in several books like Cell or The Dark Tower series. We’re told repeatedly that the ‘old ways’ like trying to get the power back on in Boulder are a ‘death trip’. The good guys gather in the Rocky Mountains, but if they try to get the juice going so they won’t freeze to death in the winter, they’re somehow acting in defiance of God’s will and returning to the bad habits? Not all tech is bad tech, Mr. King. Nature is a bitch and will kill your ass quicker than the superflu.

Here’s another thing I’m not wild about. When this was published in the late ‘70s, the bean counters at King’s publishers had decided that the book as written would be too pricey in hardback and no one would pay a whopping $13 for a Stephen King hardback. So King cut about three hundred pages.

Around 1990 after it had become apparent that King could publish his shopping list as a best seller, he put those pages back in and released the uncut version. Which I’m fine with. The original stuff was cut for a financial reason, not an editorial one, and there’s some very nice bits of story added in. If King would have stopped there, we would have had a great definitive final version as originally created by the author.

Unfortunately, he seemed to catch a case of Lucasitis and decided to update the story a bit and change its original time frame from 1980 to 1990. I’m not sure why that seemed necessary to him. Yes, the book was a bit dated by then, but it was of its time. He didn’t rewrite the text (Which I’m grateful for.), but just stuck in some references to Madonna and Ronald Reagan and Spuds McKenzie.

This led to a whole bunch of anachronisms. Would students in 1990 call soldiers ’war pigs’? Someone in New York picks up a phone book to look up the number to call an ambulance instead of dialing 911? A song called Baby, Can You Dig Your Man is a huge hit? None of it quite fits together. There's also a layer of male chauvinism and lack of diversity that you can overlook in a book written in the late '70s, but seems out of place for a book set and updated for 1990.

The things that irritate me are still far outweighed by one of my favorite stories of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil.

I’m also glad to get a long overdue audio edition of this book. Great narration and 40+ hours of end of the world horror make for a damn fine listening experience.
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M-O-O-N spells spectacular!

I first read THE STAND in the early 80's. It was during the Christmas break- I lived out in the boonies with my family, and after the holiday hoopla was over -I planted myself in my favorite chair and sat there for 4 days devouring every page-(only leaving for bathroom breaks, meals and sleep).

30+ years later my reading experience was a little different. I read it with my Goodreads friend Lisa- who had the uncut version, while I had the original- I stopped and started as she caught up- there were huge amounts of messages back and forth- on the characters, the differences in editions, who we loved- who we hated, and everything and anything we could think of to discuss. It was a month long read...

...but the one thing both experiences did have in common was- I LOVED IT each time!!
At a remote U.S. Army base, a strain of influenza is accidentally released. Despite a lock down- soldier Charles Campion is able to escape with his wife and child. By the time the military is able to track his whereabouts- Campion has spread the disease around parts of Texas- triggering a pandemic which kills off 99 percent of the population.

The one percent are left in survival mode- spread out over the entire country and plagued by strange dreams about two individuals which eventually draw some to Nebraska and some to Las Vegas.
Hemingford Home, Nebraska- Is the home of Abagail Freemantle— "Mother Abagail" a 108 year- old woman who receives visions from God. She is the embodiment of good.
Las Vegas, Nevada- is where Randall Flagg has set up shop- Randall is also called The Dark Man and The Walking Dude. He lives to cause death and destruction and has supernatural powers which allow him to be human, animal or demon. He is the embodiment of evil.
King said that he "wanted to write a fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings, only with an American setting"- and that is just what he did. THE STAND is a wonderful epic fantasy adventure about good vs evil- One that I would recommend to anybody who hasn't read it yet, and even to those who have!
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I never get tired of reading this book. It's my absolute all time favorite reads. Every once in a while I have to go back and read it again and again....and it's just as good as the first time I read it those many years ago.

1st Review

The end of the world where humanity takes a stand between good and evil.
I am a Stephen King fan and whilst I have read most of his books, The Stand has remained my all-time favorite. I read it when it was first published in 1978 and I was really happy when a longer and uncut version came out in 1990 and have since read it many times. It remains an incredible, riveting and unforgettable story. The ultimate post-apocalyptic/horror/fantasy and thought provoking novel.

The following content was provided by the publisher, giving a brief synopsis of the story and information on the 1991 uncut version.

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

In 1978 Stephen King published "The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, "The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.

Now Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. "The Stand: "The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending.

What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic.
For hundreds of thousands of fans who read "The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are reading "The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.
This is one book that’s left a lasting impression on me and I love picking it up and reading it all over again and again. How quickly and easily greed, corruption and playing the Hand of God can bring humanity to its knees and even with the possibility of their total extinction. That thought is not that far fetched with all the stuff that’s being done today, all in the name science. Hah!!!!!!!!The plot line which is divided into three parts/books follows the experiences of the plague survivors before, during and after the catastrophe and the roles they play in the story. It’s dark, intense, terrifying and uplifting…there’s hope, faith, religion, love, hate, fear, fate and redemption. A suspenseful and emotional build-up to the final face-off of good versus evil. There’s a meaning to everything that happens in the story – the betrayals, the dreams, death and births. There is nothing random in anything.

But it’s the realistic and deep characterization that’s astonishing. Complex and well developed characters that leap off the pages. It gives us a deeper understanding using the viewpoints of many of the characters – their back stories show the differences in the morality of humankind.
The vivid descriptions make the plot and characters so real and believable.

There are so many great characters in this story that some have left a lasting impression on me.
Stu Redman, a quiet, moral and unassuming character that inspires people to continue their fight against evil.

    “Men who find themselves late are never sure. They are all the things the civics books tell us the good citizen should be: partisans but never zealots, respecters of the facts which attend each situation but never benders of those facts, uncomfortable in positions of leadership but rarely unable to turn down a responsibility once it has been offered . . . or thrust upon them. They make the best leaders in a democracy because they are unlikely to fall in love with power.”
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M-O-O-N. That spells “Damn, what a great book!”

I knew King had it in him, I am a fan of his brilliant 1977 haunted house thriller The Shining, but I did not expect this.

The best post apocalyptic novel ever?

Maybe, that is a broad category teaming with great work from talented writers, but King’s The Stand is an epic, genre defining work.

My friend Michael has a profile statement, something to the effect of finding our next 5 star rating. I like that sentiment, and am excited by the opportunity that our next favorite book is out there waiting to be read; a new best friend of an author to whom we’ve yet to be introduced. Here’s mine. I’m late to the party, just reading this for the first time in 2015. I think I was always a little intimidated by the length. It’s a beast, and I was a glutton for punishment reading the 1990 extended version, weighing in at a heavyweight 1153 pages. But it’s a runaway train, grabbing the reader up and taking him or her where Stephen King wants to take you.

Yes, it’s a book about a devastating plague, but also so, so much more. King weaves in an allegory about the viruses amongst us. There is also the spiritual quality of the book, King shows how we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, and that dreamers will survive – and survivors can still dream.

I could not help making a comparison with the Left Behind series, and associating Flagg to Nicholai Carpathia – though King’s characterization is far more complex and well rounded, and like Milton’s Satan, the most interesting character here is the villain. This makes me appreciate his The Gunslinger series and I want to search out Flagg and read more about him.

This is also an American epic and in its context an American eulogy. King shows us the good the bad and the ugly of what we are and what we can be. An observant reader will see references to Ursula K. LeGuin (word for world is woods), to Jim Morison, Edgar Allan Poe, Woody Guthrie, and hell even Rod McKuen.

I know Mr. King and have enjoyed many of his works and I have now been amazed by his finest.
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     The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there...and still on your feet.


So I finally finished this gigantic brick. This freakin' gigantic heavy brick, and all I can say is, this is probably the best freakin' brick ever made. With a heaping 1439 pages, this book managed to hurt both my wrists, and probably injured some of my fingers. That's the price I had to pay to read this amazing novel. I never thought that I wouldn't finish this, fuck it I never even thought of putting this book down and read something else for the meantime. All I can say is, Stephen King managed to impress me again. Not that I doubted him though.

Its a typical thing for King to serve us with multiple characters with different stories, and plunge them together at some point. And as usual, some were amazing, and some were dreadfully boring unforgettable. This was also my experience while reading Needful Things, but his characters here are way better. I got an in depth description of each one, and I either loved or hated each one. That technique of King is truly remarkable. What goes best with an amazing plot? Well, freakin' amazing characters that's what. Ask me who my favorite is, and I'll probably end up describing most of them instead because I loved almost all of them.

I remember complaining how long the novel is. I've read quite a few epics, but all of them were way shorter than this. When I finished though, and pondered upon what could've been excluded, none came to mind. I believe everything happened for a reason, or let me rephrase that, everything was written for a reason. You can't really take out something from the story, because then the plot holes would reappear. The length of the novel is proportional to the enjoyment I experienced while reading this.

Once again, the characters were amazing and fully developed. I actually cared for them, and I didn't want them to die. This novel focused on the battle between good and evil, in a lengthy epic like feeling. We have Mother Abagail on the good side, and Flagg as the devil. It's King's second time to introduce a devil-like character, and the character turned out just as amazing. Flagg truly depicted a strong devil. He's really a strong character that I would love to read more about in his other novels (really hoping for a guest appearance).

Harold is the one I hated the most while reading. That pig really annoyed me. Everything he did was really annoying, and I wanted him to die at one point in the novel. Although I do have to point out that I hate him for a good reason. My hatred of him led to a better enjoyment of the novel. We all hate a character, and we want to see awful things done to them. I'm more than satisfied with the characters King created.

Lloyd and Nick were really amazing too. One is part of the dark team, and the other of the good team. I'm not gonna spoil who belongs where. All you need to know is that Nick's a kickass deaf-mute, and Lloyd's an annoying yet funny character. Tom's really cool too, despite being a retard. I didn't care for him that much in the beginning, but things started to change as I read along.

Stu and Fran's story would have to be my favorite of all the ones in the novel. Ever since the early parts of the novel, Fran's story already caught my interest, and it continued till the end. Larry Underwood's also really interesting. His pride overcoming him then more awful things happening really kept me interested in what would happen to him. I'm only going to mention those characters though, because who would want to read a spoiler and ruin their reading experience right? Those 3 are my favorites, but that doesn't mean that the others were boring. I will repeat, almost all the characters are amazing. There will obviously be a few that would stand out, and those 3 are my choice. Wait, I forgot to mention another favorite, the freakin' dog Kojak!! I always love dogs in novels. Kojak didn't disappoint!
Okay, enough feet kissing and let me get on with some negative aspects of this novel.

The back of the book states that "The survivors who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge - Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg the nefarious "Dark Man", who delights in chaos and violence. Yes, both of them possess those amazing qualities, but I don't think it's right to say that both of them are the leaders of the novel. I get that people in the novel looked up to the both of then [in fear and in doubt] but neither of the two became my genuine favorite. I really liked them both, yes, but that's that. Randall's really outstanding with all the violence don't get me wrong, but Mother Abagail was presented as somewhat disgusting . Obviously opinionated, but hey, aren't all reviews opinionated?

Maybe I should've said that I had one problem, because that's all I can think of as of right now. I had problems along the novel though, but all [except the one stated above] were resolved. Major problems like plot holes and all were resolved at the end of the novel, and that's awesome. Mostly when I read a novel, the problems that I had while reading didn't get fixed. The Stand proved itself otherwise. The main problem would be that we tend to complain even if we're not yet done with the novel.

The ending's really great. I'm not going to complain anymore because I really liked it. It gave me closure, and honestly, the ending's really witty. You'll have to read it yourself, but I really liked it. I'm not gonna put it in a spoiler tag anymore, because there's no reason to do so. Just read this amazing novel and see for yourself. Once again, real witty of you King. This is why you're my favorite author.
So to wrap things up, this is now my favorite King novel. It is clearly superior to The Long Walk and Needful Things, both in length and substance. I'm not saying don't read the other two, because they are both amazing in their own ways, and I'm also recommending them. The Stand is just King's novel that had the biggest impact on me, as of now. Such a shame to say that he's my favorite author yet I believe I've read less than ten books of his, and I've only read this now. I'm planning to change that soon though, I can't wait to read more amazing novels written by King. 5/5 stars, and a worthy addition to my favorites list. A clear recommendation, and I can say that this is one of my best reads of 2014.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/149267.The_Stand

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