As a fan of Stephen King, this was one of his books I had been putting off reading, due to the length. I opted for the audio version, which at 47 hours and 47 minutes took some time to get through, but was more manageable than the hardback version. Being an audiobook, this brought many of the characters to life in a way that a printed book can’t.
The narration is provided by Grover Gardner. It felt like a good combination; the usual disturbing and creatively written plot and characters which you would expect from Stephen King, given a voice by Grover Gardner. Each character was distinguishable and had their own traits, making it much easier to follow. King is known for his lengthy books and an array of characters, which can make it difficult to follow at times. The narration helped a lot with this.
The story itself is about a super flu killing off a large percentage of the population, with a more supernatural element in the form of the survivors having prophetic dreams about two major characters, who represent good and evil. There are some common traits which you will be used to seeing if you have ever read or watched anything in which the world takes an apocalyptic turn. Everyone goes on a literal journey to gather together in one of two camps. Another common theme is people; they often become the bigger threat. That’s not always a negative thing; a little familiarity in fiction can be good. A major difference, which some authors shy away from is, King is not afraid to kill off characters if it serves the story. Nobody is safe, not even children or animals. This is what provides tension in the story, and kept me listening to see who made it to the end of the book.
In some ways, I felt like the full-length version was a bit self-indulgent. I know it was previously cut for television and didn’t seem to lose any of the story. Perhaps it should have stayed cut. Although, to say how long the book went on for, the ending felt a bit abrupt. This isn’t the first time a Stephen King book has ended suddenly. I would still recommend the book to King and/or horror fans though.
The Stand is available to download now via a range of online stores.