Stephen King’s The Stand is an apocalyptic epic of monumental size. At times, it is a towering triumph of dark imagination and fear. But, when one steps back into a broader perspective, the novel is somewhat derivative. It almost feels like King put on his scuffed-up, faded Richard Matheson hat and tried to rewrite The Lord of the Rings, Earth Abides, Alas, Babylon (whose protagonist is named Randolph Bragg–Randall Flagg?) and Matheson’s own I Am Legend, but didn’t go back and edit the first draft for content. King also got lazy at the end and decided to give those of us who read through all those pages and pages upon more pages a very Biblical and anti-climatic conclusion, instead of attempting to write a pay-off that was at least even half the size of the rest of the story.

One thing King doesn’t lack here is ambition. The novel is big, bold and brazen, even if it does contain dialogue that feels like it came from the script of a cheesy late-night made-for-TV film. But, the perseverance and determination of the characters to plow through the end of the world and come out on the other end still breathing is inspiring. You can tell King brought passion to the typewriter for this one, and you can, at times, share in the tingle of the goose bumps he must have gotten while writing this.

Not a bad read, but could have been better. Still, I would tell anyone interested in reading it to give it a shot. Despite the lack of originality in a lot of spots, the sheer scope of the tale makes it a worthy and memorable experience.


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