Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand (Uncut version) by Stephen King
Signet, (1978) 1990
Horror; 1472 pgs

Where to begin? I got caught up in the enthusiasm to read The Stand as part of the Stand-along—probably the only way I was going to read it any time soon. I had it in my head I had to read it before I read The Shining (which now I am free to read whenever I want! Yay!). The two books aren’t connected or anything. It’s just the way my brain works. Anyway, I read The Stand. I wasn’t sure I would make it all the way through. I stopped a little over half way through and read five or six other books before picking The Stand back up.

I hoped to love The Stand like so many. I didn’t. I liked it. I liked certain parts much more than others. I didn’t love it though. The novel takes its time getting off the ground—well, after the initial rush to the car and out on the road, that is. It meanders a while as the disease takes hold, killing off the majority of the population. My daughter and I both had colds as I started the book—and well, you can imagine how that went over. Reading a book about a lethal flu like virus and then seeing my daughter’s nose running . . . I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a certain amount of panic, however small.

I actually liked the first part of the book quite a bit, the way King described the spread of the disease and the impact it had on the characters. It was both frightening and at times overwhelming. King has a way of making fantasy seem so real. I got a good sense of the devastation and how alone the characters must have been feeling.

My heart ached for Fran, pregnant and alone. Well, she had Harold, but I never quite warmed to him—something seemed off about him—and I think to Fran too. Then there was Stu. How awful it must have been for him, quarantined, separated from his friends and fellow townsfolk, tested and prodded . . . He and Nick, the deaf mute, were my favorite characters. They both seemed to have good heads on their shoulders and were reasonable under pressure. If I was ever in a similar situation, I would want them by my side. Nick’s back story was heartbreaking—I really came to like and respect him. For all he’d been through, he was amazingly strong and capable. Thanks to Tom Cullen, I have a couple of choice phrases stuck in my head. I actually caught myself saying to my daughter, “You are loud today. M-O-O-N, that spells loud.” And “Laws, yes!” I never quite saw Larry Underwood the way his mother or even he saw himself. He seemed like a good guy right from the start, even if a bit foolhardy. To say the least, the cast of characters is quite long and each made an impression on me in their own way.

There came a point in the book, about where I took my long break, when I told my husband over dinner one night that I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue, especially if the book continued in the direction it was going. When I told him why (God versus Devil like scenario), he told me then I might want to stop reading because that’s exactly where the book was going. Of course, this was also the point everyone was telling me the book got good.
The speed of the book did pick up considerably about 75% in (I was reading my e-copy by that point as my paper copy was beginning to fall apart) and I found myself reading more intently. I can’t say I liked the final third of the book better, but it certainly held my attention.

I could write about the more worldly issues addressed in the book—about the forming of society, the role religion and politics takes in the process, etc. It’s all there. But I can’t say I really carried much away from the novel in that regard. My focus was more on being entertained and getting through the book.

Stephen King is a great story teller. He’s the kind of guy you want to hang out with while sitting around the campfire making smores. He creates characters I wouldn’t mind getting to know in real life – at least the good guys.  While the story--towards the end--might not have been my cup of tea, I still enjoyed it. 

I watched the mini—series right after finishing the book and have to say, it was awful. It was dated and campy and the acting was terrible. I sure hope Ben Affleck’s version is better.

Source: I purchased both the mass market paperback copy and the e-copy I read from.

This book counts towards The Eclectic Reading Challenge.


© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. I read a King book first every year and this was my Jan. 2012 book. It was a re-read for me but I read the "uncut" version this time. I love this book so much, but somehow it did make more of an impression on me reading it as a kid than it did as an adult. I agree the virus part is the best part for me. I'm slowly reading the graphic novel version now and really enjoying that. I have the old mini-series and hope to watch it soon, just so I can say I did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was only my third King book. I really wish I had liked The Stand more. Oh well. It'll be fun discovering which of his books is my favorite as I read more by him.

      Delete
  2. I've only read one King book - 11/22/63 - so I know he can be quite verbose. This one may not be for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard 11/22/63 is really good. I am tempted to give it a try, although the Kennedy connection is a bit of a turn off for me. We'll see!

      Delete
  3. The mini series was so cheesy!

    I loved the book when I read it in college but when I read it again a year or two ago, I didn't care for it as much. I had less patience for that trek to Vegas. It took way too long!

    I am re-reading IT now and although I liked it plenty in college, I am loving it more this time around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the mini-series was very cheesy. I nearly gave up on it after the first episode, but Jill (Softdrink) convinced me to continue. I'm glad I did, in a way. I still thought it sucked though.

      I don't know if I'll ever read IT. I can't say it really interests me. I am glad you are enjoying it so much in the re-reading, Ti!

      Delete
  4. Oh, I know the mini series was hokey, but we have it on DVD and bring it out once in awhile. I like the music! I loved the book. I think it is Magnum Opus, but may be affected by the fact that it was one of the first books I read of his (when I was in 8th grade!). The man DOES go on, though. You have to be in a healthy reading spirit and not distracted in order to sustain yourself through his meanderings. I just finished up the six-volume set of graphic novels of The Stand, which was awesome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandy - Haha! Some things are just like that--you love 'em even if they are cheesy. :-)

      I wish I had liked The Stand more. I don't think the length bothered me--I've had no problem racing through other thick tomes (although maybe not quite as long). It was more the story just didn't grab me and hold on tightly enough.

      Delete
  5. Now you can join us in the IT-along! :-D And then next year we're doing the ShineOn! Yes, we're in this just for the cheesy names.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jill - :-) I think I'll live vicariously through all of you who are reading IT instead. I may join you for The Shining though!

      Delete
  6. Shame on me, I still haven't read this book yet! I've gotta admit that I'm a bit intimidated by the thick volumn, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melody - It's one of those books I am glad to say I've read--finally. LOL

      Delete
  7. I haven't read this one, and at it's length, I am not sure that I ever will. I was spoiled by the mini-series, which I felt was awful and I am reluctant to start the book for so many reasons. I don't know if I like King because I haven't really gotten into his books, but I did join the ITalong, hoping to see if he works for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather - I think if I'd seen the mini-series first, I'd have been turned off too! Good luck with IT. I can't say I have much of an interest to read that one (along with a few others of his). I'll be curious to know what everyone who is participating in the ITalong thinks though.

      Delete
  8. I signed up for the IT-along only because I wouldn't get to it any other way! Still need to crtack it open.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stacy - Haha! I know what you mean. Joining the Stand-Along was the only way I was going to read The Stand. :-)

      Delete
  9. I'm still reading...I think I'm on chapter 57...oy...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peppermint - Good luck! It does pick up rapidly in later chapters. Or so I thought. :-)

      Delete
  10. I'll admit that I skimmed thru your review of this one as I didn't finish it myself. I started but kinda gave up right at the beginning. I think that I'll go back and try it again at some point but it just wasn't I felt like reading at the time. I'm glad that I'm not the only one that didn't love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Samantha - No, you definitely are not the only one. If you do give it another try, I hope you like it more. For your sake. LOL It's such a huge time suck.

      Delete
  11. I recently reread The Stand and had pretty much the same reaction as you did. I wanted to love it like I remember doing the first time but I didn't. I liked it and have mad respect for King but the uncut version I read was over long. I'm looking forward to seeing what Affleck will do with the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen - It'll be interesting to see his take on The Stand. I hope he does it justice!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.