The Stand is a very very long book. I'd watched bits and pieces of the tv series before, and knew what it was about a little bit, but there was a whole lot more to the book than even the series got into (which is how it usually is). I should note that I read the 1980 copyright of this book, as there seems to be several different ones circulating out there with changed information in them.
Because of a mistake, a deadly virus is loosed on the world and it quickly decimates the population. The survivors are all driven by their dreams; some of a dark man west of the Rockies, others to an old woman, somewhere in Nebraska. Based on their morals and interests they head to these two different people, meeting up with other survivors along the way. And once they establish their own societies, it is quickly realized that both can't exist in the world.
There are a lot of standout characters in this book and there are a lot of characters that are extraneous. I really liked Stu's character as he seemed to be a decent guy with only a few flaws and he genuinely seemed to want to help people. I don't understand his logic at times (or a lot of the characters for that matter), but he drives the plot along quite nicely. Frannie, on the other hand, seems to only be in the story for the use of her pregnancy in the plot. She could have been so much more but I felt like King only used her for convenience and she wasn't really a strong character on her own. As for the bad guy, Flagg, I just didn't find him that menacing. He seemed more bark than bite and while he did do plenty of awful things, they were all background and his henchman seemed more vile than him. (Yes, I suppose it could be a lesson on how true evil uses others to do its work for it, but I'm not really wanting to go that philosophical with this book). There were also a lot of loose ends with a lot of the characters too, like the boy Joe/Leo and a few others and I would have liked to have known what happened to them.
This is a long winded book. King likes to use a lot of words and it works for him most of the time. I think in this particular one there might be too much to it though. I find my interesting flagging at times (no pun intended) and had to read it in several sittings. Especially towards the end, I really had to push myself to finish the book. The beginning was fantastic though, just the right amount of detail and the subject was compelling as they were trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. It was when he started throwing in the supernatural that my interest waned as it could have been a strong story even without it. It was still interesting, just not as intriguing as it could have been. And the ending was a bit of a let down. I don't want to give away too much, but it just seemed too easy after everything else that had happened. King is known for doing the supernatural thing though, so I shouldn't be surprised that this book followed that formula.
I liked the book but I didn't think it was an epic story. It started off strong and kind of ended with a whimper in my opinion. 3.5 stars from my perspective.