Fiction — print. Signet Books, 1991. Originally published 1978. 1,141 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.
Note: Spoilers are fair game in this post. I have so many conflicting thoughts about this book that I am unable to discuss it without spoiling.
Reading this book with a cold adds a whole new dimension to the reading experience. I would look around with a kind of suspicious or worried look on my fave every time I coughed and sniffled or one of my coworkers coughed and sniffled. It also doesn’t help that I’m currently living in a state with its own epidemic breaking out. Good times.
In Part Two of this giant book, the few remaining survivors of the super-flu are moving across country in search of the 108-year-old woman they see in their dreams. This woman, Abagail Freemantle becomes the spiritual leader of the survivors, who call her “Mother Abigail”, in a struggling democratic society based out of Boulder, Colorado.
Other survivors are drawn to Flagg, the villain of this tale, and his tyrannical society in Las Vegas, Nevada. Flagg maintains control and suppresses dissidence through crucifixion, dismemberment, and other forms of torture. Still, Flagg’s group is better equipped to rebuild Las Vegas — quickly restoring power and launching a weapons program while the democratic society of the “Free Zone” bickers amongst themselves. The two groups eventually realize the existence of the other so you know there’s going to be a showdown.
Except there wasn’t. Not really, at least. Stu, Glen, Larry, and Ralph are sent off to confront Flagg at the request of a dying other Abigail but our man Stu ends up breaking his leg en route and thus drops out of the confrontation. The others are encouraged to continue on and eventually captured by Flagg’s men. Flagg offers to spear their lives if they knell and beg him for their lives, and eventually the men are all slated for execution. That is, until Trashcan Man arrives with a nuclear warhead that detonates and destroys everything and everyone in the rebuilt Las Vegas. The End.
Okay, not really; I still have Part Three to go. But I ended this section with feelings of such disappointment. On the one hand, I found King’s post-apocalyptic tale to be incredibly engaging despite how many unnecessary details he insists upon including.The characters weren’t particularly engaging, but the image of the bodies in the Lincoln Tunnel will probably always be seared into my brain.
I love apocalyptic/dystopian novels for how they handle the construction of new societies, and the dichotomy King establishes between the Free Zone and Flagg’s group was actually pretty interesting. Yet I wanted to know more about Flagg; I dislike “evil is evil for evil’s sake”. And I hate (hate!) when authors set up a big confrontation that never comes to fruition. Where’s the stand in The Stand? Maybe it comes in Part Three?