The Stand: First 150 Pages

What the hell is wrong with me? I criticize Stephen King for being too long-winded and then I start reading the extended edition of his longest work.

Yup, sounds about right.

Let me back up: I love Stephen King. He deserves all the recognition he’s received over the last several decades. Nonetheless, the man’s style is… different from mine. Whereas I aim to give my readers only the bare essentials and do it as quickly as possible, Mr. King will take his time, build up equity in the story’s characters, grab his readers by the giblets, and walk them carefully through an exposition-packed minefield.

Is that wrong? No. The proof’s in the pudding.

Back to The Stand. Overall, I am going to finish it. King hooked me early. The Prologue was okay, but the first official chapter was amazing. King’s strength lies in his gruesome descriptions. The seasoned author has a knack for making grisly scenes relatable by using universal feelings/experiences to invest the reader in the carnage. It sounds simple, but people screw it up all the time.

For those who don’t know, The Stand is told from multiple characters’ perspectives. It tells the tale of a lethal airborne virus that spreads faster than HPV on a college campus. Eventually, the survivors find each other and attempt to rebuild society. So far, I’m only at the part where everyone is getting sick and dying.

For a Stephen King “complete and uncut” edition, I’m finding surprisingly little flab. There has not been one page that I’ve been tempted to skip. Every detail is absorbed and every page is turned with the same yearning for more.

Okay, I guess that one scene where Franny is in her mom’s parlor could have been shorter. It reminded me SO much of that scene from The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three where Susannah’s alter-ego is smashing her relative’s (mom’s?) plates. Yeah, I get why you’re talking about it, but damn… cut to the chase already.

Literally, that’s the only thing I’ve had a problem with so far… in an extended edition book. That’s not just good, it’s amazing. Only 950 more pages to go.