Fiction — print. Signet Books, 1991. Originally published 1978. 1,141 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.
The problem with this book being my bus buddy is that I’ve now forgotten to get off the bus twice because I was so engrossed with King’s apocalyptic tale. It’s a good thing the bus terminates at my place of employment in the mornings ergo I would be late for work almost every morning.
This massive chunkster begins with a military man gathering up his wife and daughter in an attempt to flee a biological testing facility before the gates seal shut, condemning himself and his family to death. What he doesn’t realize — or doesn’t care — is that he has already been exposed. His drive from California to a small town in Texas infects nearly everyone he meets — spreading the superflu from coast to coast.
Millions of people die over the nineteen days covered in Book One, which covers the prologue to chapter 43 in my “uncut” edition, that the word pandemic seems too weak to describe the situation. We’re introduced to a whole host of characters — a good ol’ boy from Texas, an unwed mother in Maine — but many of the people who we meet die so quickly that it kind of made my head spin. I have a pretty good idea of who the most important people are — Stu and Frannie — but I’m also afraid I’ve missed someone important. There’s just so much information thrown at the reader from so many perspectives!
There are some hints as to what is occurring across the country. We know that the US government is lying to its citizens about a vaccination, has instituted martial law in parts of the country, and is infringing on freedom of the press to prevent newspapers from printing the truth. Of course, it’s hard to imagine the government being able to do anything else in light of such a catastrophic outbreak (of their own causing). It’ll be interesting to see how the survivors reestablish society after a period of total breakdown.
I can understand now why people say not to read this book while sick. A random cough at work today immediately brought up thoughts of King’s superflu, and I grimaced when I read Ogunquit, Maine as one of the settings since I’ll be vacationing there later this year. Little connections like this makes the story all the more terrifying.