Hi friends, happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a great week and are ready to start your weekend! Today I’m back with another Stephen King novel, this is his fourth novel, The Stand.
I read this from December 22, 2019 – September 13, 2020 (9 months)
The Book (Originally: 1978 The Uncut Edition*: 1990)
*For this project I went ahead and just read the Uncut Edition to read the story once.
- What a way to open a novel. The set up was done well. Even though characters die in the first chapter, the reader can already feel that they died for a reason and it’s going to set up the story.
We’re getting a really, really slow introduction to our characters, which is working so far.
- King is really setting the atmosphere in this book. We’re getting bits of pieces of characters, but all of them are getting sick, which feels like a big foreshadowing for the main plot.
Four chapters in and we’re already given very small details that may or may not be relevant to the overall story.
- We meet Larry, a musician if you will. The reader isn’t sure where he fits into the story just yet… at first the reader doesn’t see a point to all the useless background, but it is interesting to read.
We then get 9 pages on the do’s and don’ts of abortion. Frannie, who we met earlier is pregnant and wants her father’s advice. It was definitely an interesting approach and made for compelling narrative.
- There are a lot of characters that the reader is following along with, which is a little daunting. The only thing that the reader can truly keep straight is that they’re all slowly getting sicker. Continuing to read who has infected who is interesting and all, but the reader is now starting to get antsy about what this means for everyone… as it’s starting to spread state to state.
- We meet a guy named Nick in Arkansas and the sickness is spreading there… but King drags on and on with these characters… are they going to connect later? Why are there so many characters? We then jump back to Larry, but it feels like a useless chapter as we read about his morning with a girl; how he thinks he’s a nice guy and she clearly doesn’t. The novel felt like it could have done without this chapter.
- Finally, we’re getting somewhere. We have a whole chapter where Larry goes to apologize to his mother; it was great writing, but knowing that this plague is slowly going to hit him, the plot is thickening. We then bounce back to Frannie as she tells her mother that she is pregnant. What a heartbreaking chapter. King captures hurt so well in such a short amount of time.
- We get a whole chapter, mind you it’s short, on who’s dead and that this disease is spreading. It didn’t really make for a progressive chapter. In an even shorter chapter, we learn that not everyone has the same symptoms or go through the same steps; some go back & forth, some just forward, others backward. Fascinating disease.
- The way King is writing this disease and giving the reader the smallest of samples of what’s to come gives the reader this heightened anticipation. We’re now introduced to two more characters, these guys are killers on the run, but it’s not clear how they fit in to the overall story yet. This chapter just felt rather random.
- The only thing that’s really interesting in the next eight pages is the fact that we now know the disease is called Blue. We meet Nick who is deaf and the reader wonders if this could be an immunity to the disease as everyone around him is starting to die and rapidly. The reader is definitely intrigued.
- We’re back with Larry and it looks like his mother is now sick with this disease. The added photo in this version of the novel was a nice added touch to the whole scene as Larry panics to save his mother. Now Frannie’s mother is also coming down with the disease and we’re starting to see the implications around the country as it spreads. Panic and tension is increasing.
- Panic is definitely setting in and the short little chapters King gives his readers to ensure that things are only getting worse heighten the story. King is writing deliberately slow so that the reader really understands the scope of this disease he’s created.
- We meet Randall Flagg who is a big part of all of this somehow, his chapter was very dense as he walks along US 51. Then we flip back to Lloyd who’s in jail for his crimes. Both chapters weren’t anything special; short snippets to a larger story.
- Even though this chapter is slightly longer than past chapters, this doesn’t move the plot any further because the reader already knows there is a superflu that is killing people and more people are dying. The humanization that King gives to each character is nice though. Now that the media is involved the plot is starting to quicken and watching people freak out is scary.
- Larry meets a woman named Rita on his travels alone through New York. It’s an interesting pairing seeing this woman is old enough to be his mother. The reader has no idea the purpose of their meeting, hopefully we’ll find out. Plots are still moving slowly as we transition back to Frannie to find out both her parents are dead & she spends a lot of time talking to a man who may be important?
- Another two very short chapters that reiterate how bad the superflu is affecting people; men who have it just want to die, men who don’t are scared of them, and overall eeriness that is befalling the majority of the US. We don’t learn more than we know and these chapters just filled the reader with more sense of unease.
- We get a short, discombobulated chapter where the characters aren’t making any sense, but we do get more of Randall Flagg. And then a second chapter with Lloyd stuck in jail… and no one is around to help him; talk about creepy and eerie.
- We get another short chapter, but it was very fast paced. King now has the reader feeling sorry for Nick, as he’s deaf but now blind in one eye. This makes the reader really curious where this character arc is going to go. We then meet a new character: Trashcan Man. He likes to set things on fire… could this be foreshadowing?
- We get a decent size chapter; one that details Larry and Rita & their expeditions. They travel together to get out of New York & into New Jersey. Larry’s character really shines through in this chapter and the reader gets a good sense of who he is & who he wants to be. Frannie has now teamed up with a friend named Harold & the two of them plan to leave their state for another as well hoping to avoid the superflu.
- Stu meets a man named Glen Bateman; this interaction could be a mirage, but a little unlikely. The exposition on the flu and mankind was super intriguing & the dreams sound like foreshadowing. We get a chapter that is just randoms dying around the country but not from the superflu, just fluke accidents, some actual suicide attempts- it didn’t add much to the plot but was interesting.
- We’re back with Lloyd in jail; he’s starving when he meets Flagg who lets him out of his cell for god knows what purpose. The writing was slightly gruesome but also intriguing. What are these 2 up to. We get a chapter with Nick, the deaf man. Not really sure what the point was; foreshadowing that he can hear? Kind of felt useless.
- Larry is still on route with his friend Rita, unfortunately Rita doesn’t make it and now Larry doesn’t exactly know what to do with himself. As much as Larry is a tough man, this shows a more vulnerable side of him. Frannie and her friend Harold come up upon Stu, a character we met a few chapters ago, and it was interesting to see characters finally coming together; the foreshadowing sounds a foreboding.
- Nick is on route to find the woman he dreamed about. On his way, he meets Tom Cullen; a man with a child’s brain. The two of them begin their journey & the character development between them is so honest, it’s hard not to love. We get a very long chapter with Larry; he meets Nadine & Joe together they are trying to find their way. There is a lot of foreshadowing happening with these dreams they’re all having.
- We finally meet the woman from all their dreams; Mother Abigail. We get a whole chapter dedicated to her past & who she is- great characterization. Nick, Tom & few others they’ve met show up to her house in preparation for a war against the dark man. Frannie, Harold & their new friends are traveling together when they all start dreaming about the dark man. It’s a long chapter on the basics of premonitions.
- New characters are showing up halfway through the book; not sure if they will add anything to the overall story. Harold has always seemed like this sketchy guy & we’re shown a darker side, which could be interesting. There are so many unnecessary scenes in some of these chapters. The Trashman who likes to burn things is back. He meets “The Kid” who will ultimately lead him to Randall Flagg, the bad guy.
- We get a chapter with Nadine, a woman who met Larry a few chapters ago, talk about her dreams, which may be useful later? So most, if not all, characters have made their way to Boulder, Colorado in search of Mother Abigail. We get a lot of rehashing what has happened in the first half of the book so it felt heavily repetitive.
- We’re starting to get into the thick of the plot; good vs. evil. Majority of the characters we’ve met are good & are planning how to take down the bad. Slight creepy vibe happening also. Mother Abigail has fled to do God’s work & it feels like we’re getting some foreshadowing from a dog named Kojak which is interesting.
- Everyone is preparing for what to do next. We get more of Nadine, a woman who Larry met on route. It looks like the dark man is calling to her & she’s going to follow it. Now Nadine is trying to get Harold to join the dark side… which wasn’t that hard. There was so much unnecessary scene set up & dialogue that it left the reader really bored.
- Still more set up & preparations are happening before we can fully meet Randall Flagg. We get some more foreshadowing & a bit about Harold that felt like useless info. Nadine is a strange character; 1st she’s overly sexualized & she uses it like some power over Harold. Most of these chapters, can we just get to the point? There just seems to be a lot of useless writing.
- The plot is starting to pick up; we’ve got Frannie & Larry working together to figure Harold out & then we have Nadine who’s got this foreshadowing ability which is telling she and Harold to flee. We’re definitely hitting some rising action as a bomb goes off & the plot is hopefully going to take off.
- We’ve come to the end of part two where Mother Abigail has come back spewing prophesies about Flagg. Now the 4 men, Stu, Larry, Ralph & Glen must head west to find Flagg. We’re inching closer to the rising action; the pacing has been slow but it’s starting to pick up.
- Book 3 starts with us following the Judge who has gone to search for the Dark Man… but he doesn’t get very far. We also follow Danya & it’s through her we finally meet Randall Flagg. Flagg is an interesting character; he wears a facade of being a nice man, but in actuality he’s cruel. Intrigue is definitely building up.
- We see that Tom Cullen has made it to where the Dark Man lives. The reader is worried what’s going to happen to him. We finally see the end of Harold & it is not what the reader had expected at all. But it’s good riddance to him as he played his role in destroying lives & moving that plot along. He will not be missed.
- Nadine is now going back to Flagg & we’re now seeing her purpose in all this was to take all the good people out and repopulate with the bad. It feels it took too long to get to this revelation. Tom Cullen has figured out that these people are truly bad & is trying to escape… but will he?
- It feels like we’re getting foreshadowing on the ending. First we see that Tom is dreaming of Nick as he prepares to attempt to go back to the Free Zone, then Trashcan Man makes an appearance so the world just might combust. The reader just wants to get to the end; enough with the foreshadowing storytelling.
- Another two short chapters where we get characters who are planning to leave because they don’t think Flagg can do a good job leading. So now even his own people are leaving… interesting turn; the reader wasn’t expecting that.
- We get more foreshadowing; shocker! Kojak the dog works as a double agent; he works for Flagg but is traveling with the 4 guys from Mother Abigail’s crew as they go in search of Flagg. One thinks that these guys are going to be left for dead one at a time. With just shy of 100 pages left, how will this end? Because it feels like we’re no closer to a resolution.
- The end is starting to feel near. We lose Glen next & the Trash Can Man makes yet another appearance but what happens leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. Did they all just blow up? & just when the reader didn’t think they’d hear from Stu again he meets up with Tom. For the amount that happened these chapters were too long.
- Tom and Stu have survived the badlands and now find themselves fighting to make it back to the Free Zone. The reader is still curious how everything is going to end; after a long chapter of persevering what is going to happen to these characters and how are they going beat the super flu?
- Final thoughts: Overall, this was a great story idea, it’s something that resonates with the reader because it’s such a scary thought of a plague taking over (especially during a pandemic). The twists and turns and adventure were a lot of fun to follow along with. The characters, although not all of them were likeable, were all fleshed out and the reader didn’t feel confused about who was who. The writing was good, but as the reader approached the middle of this novel the plots started to really drag. This novel was already long to begin with, so to add an uncut version felt a little useless and excessive.As for the ending, well it felt a little lacklustre. Once Stu and Tom made it make to the Free Zone, that’s the last we hear of Tom, the reader really liked Tom, and Stu went to start a family with Fran, but it felt like we didn’t really get a resolution about the flu. It was just glossed over that the new babies being born have a change to get it and they just wait it out to see if they survive, as for everyone living they are now immune. It was like, we read all this way to find out it may or may not still be around.You can see that King is also setting up for his Gunslinger series as this novel ends with Randall Flagg coming back, although not explicitly told it’s Flagg the reader can assume that’s who it is. It leaves the reader curious where he plans to go with Flagg and it kinda saves the ending from being a total flop.
Mini Series (1994)
- The first episode does a good job of showing the viewer who the key players are. We get to meet them and understand them a bit.
- The acting was a little over the top, but that’s kinda to be expected with TV movies.
- There was a lot of exposition, sometimes it felt like there was too much of it as if the actors were reading passages out of the novel.
- The transitions between scenes were really abrupt; one minute we’re shown characters doing something the next it jumps to characters doing something else that will relate to the scene before but how is the viewer supposed to know that? They were really jarring cuts.
- The pacing is super slow throughout all four episodes and it makes for a long viewing. The final episode was probably the only episode that didn’t drag too much.
- The way the shots at Mother Abigail’s and the weird cave with Randall Flagg feel so out of place. They don’t feel like the place is real and takes the viewer out of the story.
- There are a lot of cheesy effects that were really laughable and cringy.
- The scenes that they could have spent more time on, they breeze through and scenes that didn’t have to be long they took their time with which really made this drag.
- Why does King feel the need to act in his made for TV series? He’s not the greatest actor and he makes it so cringy to watch.
- Overall, this was definitely made for King fans or anyone who has read the book and wants a visual representation because if you didn’t read the book the way it was shot would leave the viewer with questions; plus it was very slow and not the most engaging. It is so not worth watching without reading the book.
Mini Series (2020)
You can read all my thoughts in my write up post: Let’s Talk About… The Stand (2020)
Up next: Night Shift (short story collection)