The Stand by Stephen King… Or Katie vs. Taylor Swift

October 18, 2012 Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian, Supernatural 48

Yesterday I got a flu shot. Jim works for a hospital, and every year they have a huge initiative to get as much as the staff vaccinated as possible. This year he came home acting very self important. He told me that the flu would be responsible for the Zombie Apocalypse. Since he’d been vaccinated and I hadn’t, I’d become a zombie, he’d have to put me down, and then he’d find Taylor Swift to be his replacement wife. I wasn’t about to let THAT happen. If the world is going to end, it’s going to end with Jim pestering me to clean the toilets. Taylor Swift would only write songs about his love of disinfectant- but would she disinfect?! Really, this was a flu shot of spite.

I had to go to the doctor for a checkup anyway, so when they asked if I wanted a flu shot, I accepted. I was feeling pretty smug about it, until my arm started to hurt. A lot. Stupid sore arm. Now I’m stuck battling zombies with one arm. Pfft. When Jim got the swine flu a few years back, I didn’t even get sick. I’m probably IMMUNE to the zombie virus anyway. Now I have flu shot buyer’s remorse. So… In honor of my flu shot, zombies, and infectious diseases of all kinds, we’re going to talk about The Stand by Stephen King.

Good vs. Evil. Super Flu. Apocalypse.

The Stand is one of two Stephen King novels I’ve read. The other, Bag of Bones, gave me nightmares, and that was REALLY tame. No scary clowns, no possessed twins, no child cults. I know my psyche well enough to know I can’t handle the King. But I LOVE dystopian fiction! Every book list I came across listed The Stand as one of the all time best dystopian novels, so I got brave. The novel is nothing short of epic. I mean that literally as well as figuratively, because this sucker is long. It’s also awesome.

The basic premise of The Stand is that the US government has engineered biological weapons. One of those weapons, a super flu, is released accidentally by a lone security guard trying to escape his military base. This flu kills 99% of the population. It’s not just a virus, it’s a mega mutating virus. Once a body begins to recover from the infection the virus changes and finds another way to kill them. It’s crazy. But it’s only 99% lethal… So there are a handful of people who are immune. The survivors slowly come across one another wandering about the country (King never really says if the virus spread past the US, but it’s implied that it’s a worldwide thing. He just didn’t write about, you know, the Chinese survivors. Because he’s from Maine, what does he know about Chinese apocalypse survivors?) The American survivors all begin to have dreams of an old African American woman and are drawn to her Midwestern farm. There, the mysterious old black woman known as Mother Abigail rallies her “troops” and heads off to re-establish society in Colorado.

At the same time that Mother Abigail is gathering the righteous, a sketchy supernatural being named Randall Flagg is gathering his own dark troops in Vegas. It all comes down to an epic battle of good vs. evil with the survivors of the plague. Toward the end it gets a little bizarre. I’m not opposed to supernatural happenings or religious imagery in any way… But… The Hand of God (literally… a hand coming out of the sky) smiting the evil doers was a bit Old Testament for my taste. In any case, you should read this book. It’s creepy. It gives a great picture of what happens to humanity in a disaster scenario. It’s allegorical and meaningful… And there are weasels. How often do you get to read books with weasel imagery?! I bet you didn’t even know there were weasels in North America, did you? They like eating birds. And, according to Stephen King, Righteous Old Ladies’ hard won chickens.

He’ll smite you. Weasel style.

December 21st is just around the corner. Any of my bookworms prepping for Doomsday? (I doubt it, because if you were prepping for Doomsday, you’d be canning tomatoes and not reading my blog right now, but you know.)

48 Responses to “The Stand by Stephen King… Or Katie vs. Taylor Swift”

    • Words for Worms

      Thanks dear! Yes, it’s common courtesy that when a loved one is turned into a zombie, you euthanize… Like a beloved dog with rabies… Nothing in that statement about getting a replacement dog… Or loved one… JIM!

  1. Liesel Hill

    Great review! It’s been years since I read this book, but enjoyed it immensely. Some of us prep for the apocalypse little by little…between reading awesome blog reviews. Just sayin.’ ;D

  2. JoulesDellinger

    Now I want a weasel. He’s really cute and I’d totally name him Henry or Wilson or Juliette.

    My husband would totally replace me with Tara Reid. Not the skanky weird lipo version that she is now, back when she was in American Pie #1. That’s okay though, because I would totally take up with Adam Levine, David Beckham and Wade from Hart of Dixie…

    • Words for Worms

      Yeah they LOOK cute, but I’ve done research. They smell really really bad. They also do “war dances.” Plus they’re nocturnal, and might try to eat your baby. Don’t be fooled by the furry face! I’d replace Jim with Jesse Eisenberg. He’s adorable (if you’re me) and he’s already mastered the zombie thing in Zombieland. Then again, maybe I’d replace him with that super hot werewolf from True Blood… He’s got like 8 pack abs. Who are we kidding? Jim and I would both get eaten really fast. We’re not a hand to hand combat people…

  3. Rachel

    When I was a teenager, I LOVED the miniseries based on this book. But I didn’t like Stephen King’s writing style enough to get through this hefty book. Now that I can read a bit faster, perhaps I should try again. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Words for Worms

      Part of the reason I started reading this was that the Sci Fi channel was re-running the miniseries. Oh that Molly Ringwald. And Dauber from Coach! And Lieutenant Dan! It’s almost too much. Even the poorly animated Hand Of God graphic was delicious.

  4. Quirky Chrissy

    This is my favorite favorite favorite Stephen King novel. I read it freshman year, because I loved the movie when I was 12. To this day, I still have things for Gary Sinise and Rob Lowe. I love them. In the zombie apocalypse, if my boyfriend got the flu, I would put him down and replace him with one of them. But that’s not going to happen. Because Brian is never allowed to catch the zombie flu.

    • Words for Worms

      Ah yes, I believe you were also instrumental in my decision to read this. Brian won’t catch Zombie Flu. He’s too smart. He’ll probably figure out how to cure it, but let it kill a bunch of banana heads first…

  5. Cindy

    The Stand is my favorite Stephen King book. It’s in the running for my favorite book period.

    I hope you read the unabridged version. It had more character development than the original – loved that there was more Trashcan Man!

    When I was a teenager, he was my favorite author. I would say that he still is. But, since I had my daughter I find it very hard to read his books since most of them are about children in danger. I keep wanting to try again now that she’s a little older.

    • Words for Worms

      I’m pretty sure that I read the unabridged version- Trashy had a thorough back story. Since you’re a King fan, do you have any recommendations of his tamer titles that I could try? You know, that wouldn’t give me nightmares? His writing is wonderful, but I really like sleeping…

      • Cindy

        Hmmm… Ones that won’t give you nightmares. I’ll have to think on that.
        I loved the Dark Tower series, but haven’t read the latest one. They aren’t horror either. Wow, just looked on Amazon because I couldn’t remember how many there are – 8. There are 8. That seems like a lot. Of course, I re-read the whole Sookie Stackhouse series last year, so maybe 8 isn’t that many. 🙂

        I’ve heard 11/22/63 is really good. ‘Salem’s Lot has vampires, not sure what your feelings are on those. I thought The Talisman was wonderful, and I don’t think it’s really horror. The Green Mile is the first book I remember reading that made me cry.

  6. Words for Worms

    Thanks for the tips. No fear of vampires especially, just demons and clowns and such. I’ve been crying while reading since Little Women. I get way too attached to literary characters…I think 8 Dark Tower books is a whole lot more than 8 Sookies… I read the first 7 Sookie books in like 2 weeks, but Stephen King’s books are usually like bricks. I think you could take out a zombie with a hardcover edition of The Stand.

  7. KC @ Average: More or Less

    I loved The Stand. I went through a huge Stephen King phase in my teens/early 20s. The only stories that scared me were the ones that might actually happen like Gerald’s Game. In that book a woman accidentally kills her husband after he handcuffs her to bed in remote, off-season cabin, leaving her trapped and vulnerable to roaming dogs and drifting bad guys.
    Not that this might actually happen to me.
    The zombie apocalypse is more likely to kill me than this scenario.
    But it could happen to someone and it gave me nightmares.
    And apparently turned me off bondage games.
    I’ll shut up now.

    • Words for Worms

      Note to self… Do NOT read Gerald’s Game. At least with Zombies you can run. That scenario just hits so many levels of paranoia for me… I’m getting nervous just thinking about it!

  8. Jayne

    Speaking of zombies and apocalypses (is that how you pluralize apocalypse?) and viruses and US government experiments going awry, have you read The Passage by Justin Cronin? I just started reading your blog, so maybe you’ve talked about it and I just don’t know. It’s also a very long book. It deals with all those topics and sounds like a sort of similar premise to The Stand (which I’ve never read). I really liked The Passage, and it’s the first book of a trilogy so that’s fun. I just got the second book, The Twelve, but haven’t started it yet because I am in the middle of The Casual Vacancy (JK Rowling’s new one).

    Oh and anyone who can read Little Women and NOT cry has no soul. Just sayin’.

    • Words for Worms

      I haven’t read The Passage, but it’s now on my list because you recommended it, and I apparently love reading about humanity imploding! I’m excited that you’re reading The Casual Vacancy as well… That’s next month’s Blogstalker Book Club book! 🙂 And I completely agree- only the soul-less can make it through Little Women without having their hearts break.

      • Jayne

        Well now I’m nervous and I hope you like The Passage or I’ll feel bad for recommending it! I found you through Lauren’s blog, so now I’m really excited The Casual Vacancy will be next month’s book. I didn’t read the one for this month, sorry 🙁 .

        • Words for Worms

          I’m sure I’ll like it. The more dark and dreary, the better. It’s okay if you haven’t read the book for Blogstalker Book Club… As long as you read the blog post :). We don’t want Lauren to go thinking giving me a guest slot was a bad idea, now, do we?

      • Jayne

        Actually, now that I think about it, the creatures in The Passage are more vampiric-like creatures as opposed to zombies, but still… and they’re a different kind of vampire than you normally see (NO sparkles!!). Hope that isn’t a deal-breaker!

  9. Teri

    The Stand and The Talisman are my two favorite King books. I’ve read all of his books, some more than once. But The Stand and The Talisman I’ve read 3 times. EACH. If you did enjoy The Stand, definitely read The Talisman. No scary clowns, no child cults, just an amazing story of one boy’s journey to save his dying mother. LOVE it.

    • Words for Worms

      Oooh thanks! I really like King’s writing, I just can’t handle all the scary! I’m adding Talisman to my list! I have 11/22/63 waiting for me right now, I’m excited!

  10. Rory

    My husband has a huge thing for two celebrity women: Jenna Dewan and Keira Knightley. I told him he’s welcome to trade me in if either one would accept him.

    And you discussed my favorite King novels in the same post. #winning

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