Stephen King’s THE STAND
Book review by Dennis D. McDonald
Reading the extended edition of Stephen King’s massive novel THE STAND was a reminder of why I never took up reading his books when I was younger: his writing style was flat and uninspiring.
Now that I’m older I’ve returned to reading his books and recognize his mastery of two very important fiction elements:
- He knows how to create interesting characters.
- He knows how to tell an interesting story.
I’ve enjoyed the last several King books I’ve read and intend to read more. But what about THE STAND, one of his earlier works that he later expanded and updated?
I just finished reading it via a combination of book and audio recording. I really enjoyed it. The characters are interesting and encompass a wide range of personality types, some quite original. The main story premise is devastating and worked out in great detail: most of the world’s population is wiped out by an experimental plague virus that is allowed to escape from its underground laboratory. The remainder of the U.S. population gathers together in two locations, one lorded over by evil, the other by good. Conflict between the two develops.
This is one of those stories where I kept wondering, “What is going to happen next?” Horrific details and situations are presented clearly and in a matter-of-fact manner. Death stalks the book from start to finish. Both the good and the bad (and innocent) perish at a constant and alarming rate.
As with other King books I’ve read, King is better at (takes more delight in?) creating evil people and their dastardly acts. That’s obviously one of the appeals he has is a writer of horrific fiction and THE STAND is chock-full of such people. At the same time he gives the same evil people recognizable human personalities, enough to allow the reader to be involved with and even sympathetic with them.
THE STAND is also populated by “good” people as well, people that I would describe is more normal or middle-of-the-road. We sympathize and identify with them knowing full well that some will perish in the war between good and bad.
Based on my admittedly limited exposure to King’s writing his characters seem to have become more complex as he has matured as a writer and as his story lines have become more “normally” plotted. But I have to say that I stand in awe of his output over the years and at his ability to consistently engage and entertain. Count me as a fan.
Review copyright (c) by Dennis D. McDonald