Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shotgun Reviews: The Stand

After a plague kills 99.4% of the human population, the survivors form two groups; one under the benevolent guidance of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail, the other led by the cruel drifter turned dictator Randall Flagg. 

·      The version I listened to was the “complete & uncut” edition.  I agree with Mr. King that a book should not be edited just to save paper and ink (the reason why the original version was cut short by 150,000 words).  However, I do have to admit that the story dragged at times.  The first and third sections were gripping but much of the second half of the middle section lagged.
·      However, I did appreciate the story’s enormous scope.  The novel begins in “modern day” America and ends in a world reshaped by supernatural forces.  A lesser storyteller would have skipped the plague and plopped us straight into Mad Max land. 
·      One of the most intriguing parts of the novel was that the characters who went over to Randall Flagg’s side weren’t serial killers and devil worshippers.  Many of them were friendly, moral human beings.  This may have been Mr. King’s way of saying that the devil has something to offer even the best of us.  They were terrified by their leader but still got things from him they would not have gotten from Mother Abigail.   
·      That being said, one of the characters who turned to Randal Flagg’s side was someone the reader (and even the heroes) saw coming a mile away.  I would have preferred more of a gradual decent into evil rather than a character who was so obviously going to turn bad.  It also seemed strange that the main characters had a sixth sense not to trust him.   
·      The Stand was surprisingly spiritual.  I would not call it Christian Fiction but God has more of a presence than I was expecting, especially in the second half.  Of course there is also a good deal of resentment toward God for allowing the plague in the first place. 
·      I was not nearly as disappointed by the ending as I was when I saw the made for TV movie.  It could very well be that I have matured since the ninth grade or that the book itself is considerably better than the TV version.  I got more story from the book than I did in the show, and I could see how the characters and the events were leading up to the climactic scene.  The novel comes off as an apocalyptic game of chess between God and the devil. 

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