I just finished reading the longest book I have ever read--this 1,400-page hollow-block of a book. The Stand is considered as Stephen King's greatest masterpiece and classic. I had been hearing polarizing opinions about it--that I would either love it or hate, but definitely not ignore it. It was the most sensational "dystopian" novel of its time about a super plague that wipes out 99% of the population and making a 'stand' between good and evil.
The story is told in three books. The first book, called 'Captain Trips' refers to the 'superflu' and starts out when a it was accidentally released from a US military base. Before anyone could stop him, one of the infected guards manages to escape the facility and starts a chain of contamination from one person to the next. The disease quickly multiplies and within a few weeks less than 1% of the population remain.
The story features several characters from all over the country who encounter the disease in one way or another. Stephen King takes his time to introduce them one by one and tell you about who they are, what they do, and what their troubles are in life -- devoting entire chapters to properly develop each one of them. In the second book called 'On The Border" these characters eventually find their way to each other until they come together to make a 'stand' between good and evil.
Just like in any Stephen King novel, the characters are beautifully developed and are very real. For me his uncanny ability to create true-to-life characters is one of the hallmarks of Stephen King that I always look forward to. However, given the numerous characters in the novel and the many chapters dedicated to building each of their stories, the book became a lengthy tome. In fact, when The Stand was first published in 1979 Stephen King was requested by his publishers to shorten the novel significantly so that it would meet the costs and still make profits out of their calculated 6.95 cover price then. As a result, King had to delete almost 400 pages from the final draft. But Stephen King was never satisfied with this so in 1990 the Complete and Uncut Edition of the Stand was released at 1,400 pages--the version I happened to have purchased. He said that the story 'may have been there' in the first version, but it was definitely not "elegant".
Because King took his sweet time in building each character and then telling the story of how they eventually came together to make a stand, I found the pace rather slow in picking up. Though it was absorbing, I was already 200 pages into the book and there were still new characters being introduced. The story starts to pick up only in the second book when they start coming together. The characters were unique and enjoyable but since the plot took its sweet time to develop I must say that this is not my favorite Stephen King novel. Under the Dome is still my favorite to date.
There are many movie adaptations and mini-series that have been made. This is the trailer and the actual mini-series of one of them starring Rob Lowe, Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald star. Enjoy!