The uncut version of Stephen King’s “The Stand” has 1,153 pages and a quite honest preface. A commitment, but one entirely worth the read. King’s writing style takes all arduousness out reading such a lengthy novel. The original version of what is considered King’s best and most notorious work was published in 1978. This version was released in 1990 In one overarching story split into three sections, the fantasy/horror/apocalypse/action/adventure novel is probably one of the longest and best books you could have under your belt. The entire story is split into three segments: “Captain Trips”, “On the Border” and finally, “The Stand”.
Dismiss completely every notion that King only writes graphic, gory horror. ‘The Stand’ delivers on several different genres, from action to love, from religion to human nature. This is a story that will make you cogitate on many grim ideas, one of the most essential being the capacity man has to change (or end) the world. It raises questions of what magnitudes of suffering people are capable of subjecting each other to. Along with one ultimate question that’s even asked at the end of the story, and that reading the book may not even answer for you: Do people ever learn anything?
This version of the book also contains two additions to the story, an opening and a closing: “The Circle Opens” and “The Circle Closes”, with one at the beginning of the story and the other at the end, respectively.
In this uncut version, the story opens with a section named, “The Circle Opens”, in which the outbreak of the deadly virus ‘Captain Trips’ is explained. One slip up in a lockdown operation on a military base heralds the violent, tragic collapse of all human civilization. A fast-acting, deadly strain of the flu created by the United States specifically for the purpose of biological warfare is accidentally released within an isolated laboratory. After an emergency lockdown is operated, Charles Campion uses his one-second window to slip through a gate, unknowingly sealing the world’s fate. King describes with great detail the lives of this vast array of characters before getting to the gritty stuff, and once you get to that gritty area, you’ll know you’ll there. The ‘Captain Trips’ segment of the book mainly serves to set things up for the second two. We see what our main characters want in life, what they’ve done in the past. We see their pain, their happiness, jealousy, anger and fear. We understand why they do what they do later on in the story.
This is ultimately a tale of the battle between the forces of good and evil. The opposite sides try to bring in as many people as they possibly can, because post-apocalypse, you can either join up with one side or the other or get caught in the cross-fire. In one corner, there’s Randall Flagg. Flagg is known by many names in the story, but his most accurate alias is the “Dark Man”. Or maybe “The Devil’s Imp”. He embodies all the evil in the world and the bringing of the end of mankind is music to his ears. He draws power from the extensive suffering of others and his appearance is the first official supernatural occurrence in the story. King writes Flagg’s introduction with sickening scrupulousness and gives only the clearest image of what he is and why he’s here.
On the good side, we have Abigail Freemantle, more warmly known as just “Mother Abigail”. She’s a 108 year-old woman who lives a solitary, quiet life on a quaint farm left behind by her late father. A quiet life that suddenly drops on her shoulder a burden that only a woman with a faith as strong as hers could bear.
This book tells its story sometimes in the third-person narrative, sometimes in first-person narrative. King employs many different forms of storytelling. The book often switches between settings: in one chapter, you might read of the trials and tribulations of the physically handicapped Nick and his friend Tom, and in another, you’ll be following the story of former aspiring singer Larry Underwood and his companion Rita. There are very many characters and scads of subplots which are all very gripping. In addition to the main characters and the various quandaries that plague them (no pun intended), there are several individual vignettes of characters only mentioned once in the entire story. By fitting in these littles tales of accident and tragedy, King shows that not everything goes as planned, even when people are freed from the regular difficulties of everyday life after the virus is spread. Whether it be the plague or a crazed person who’s been off their leash since society’s disintegration, a person’s fate will always find them; a concept that’s portrayed magnificently throughout the story. These smaller stories only briefly take you away from the main plot, and it’s always intriguing what deadly snafus unsuspecting survivors will get themselves into.
Readers of science fiction and fantasy will fall in love with this book in no time. As will readers of a vast multitude of other genres. But one thing you must know before buying this book is that it dwells heavily in the realm of fantastical adventure and supernatural phenomena. I read this novel expecting something completely different than what I saw. It exceeded my expectations and there was never a boring moment. Sometimes it moves very fast, sometimes medium. This book widened my reading scope to other books King’s written, like ‘Cell’, ‘Cujo’ and ‘It’. All very good books. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something insightful, dark and thought-provoking. ‘The Stand’ is a must-read.
‘The Stand: The Complete And Uncut Edition’
Penguin group (USA) Incorporated
May 28th, 1991
Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror / Action Adventure