Publisher's Note:  

Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as rivetingeerily plausibleas when it was first published. The New York Times called it "the book that has everything. Adventure. Romance. Prophecy. Allegory. Satire. Fantasy. Realism. Apocalypse. Great!"

Soon to be a limited series on CBS All Access
A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.

(This edition includes all of the new and restored material first published in The StandThe Complete And Uncut Edition.)

The Stand

by Stephen King

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Overall Review:  

The Stand is Stephen King’s epic story of a world in which humanity faces near extinction as the result of a deadly virus. This novel is definitely among King’s best, and all of his most charming storytelling talents are on display here. The book is filled with well-developed, believable characters. Some of whom the reader can sympathize with as they share the journey of survival with them, as the characters struggle against disease, the hardships of an environment where most of the luxuries of modern life have been destroyed, and other survivors with evil intent. The protagonists of the story are strong characters, but they all have character flaws and weaknesses, and that is what makes them so relatable. The villains of the story are so villainous that the reader should find them easy to dislike, and that makes the sympathizing for the heroes and being emotionally involved in their story that much easier.

The setting of this book is one that was quite unique when it was first published in 1978. Since then, other authors have explored the topic of a post-apocalyptic future, and many of them have used some sort of plague to precipitate that future, but none have done so with quite the breathtaking style, attention to detail, and grand conflict between good and evil that King brings to this novel. The story is thought-provoking and darkly entertaining at the same time. It alternates among despair, hope, and stark horror in a seamless way that makes the reader not just cringe at the gruesome or disturbing lows but also feel uplifted at that heroic high points. This is a long novel, but it moves along quickly and is worth the read.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  274 religious exclamations; 183 mild obscenities; 89 religious profanities; 125 derogatory names; 193 scatological words; 79 anatomical terms; 3 offensive hand gestures; 218 f-word derivatives.

Note:  The word “kraut” is used for a German and “bloody” is used in the British vulgar way (not tallied).

Violence/Gore:  Characters threaten each other verbally or with weapons several times; a character asks another to kill him; it is implied that a character committed cannibalism; a few characters consider suicide; characters discuss plans to kill others a few times; a few reports of deaths in a fire; a character considers beating his children; a character sees pictures of dead bodies; report of a character killed in a drunk driving accident; a few reports of violence and death in war; a few report of deaths by disease, some of which have medically gory details; report of a murder spree; a few reports of attempted or carried out rape and murder; characters see sick and dying animals; a few reports of citizens shot by the military; reports of a murder/suicide, a castration, arson, riots, a kidnapping, killed by police; a few reports of mass graves and destruction of bodies; a few reports of executions; report of a death in a building explosion; report of an assassination; an illustration of a rotting corpse; report of people shot to death; a few reports of a character receiving shock treatments; report of a character dying during a medical procedure; report of a man killing animals; report of a fight; a few reports of characters killed in accidents; report of child bitten by animal; report of man cutting woman’s private parts as punishment; report of assassination; a few mentions of torture; a few reports of domestic violence; report of torture, including gory details; report of a child beaten; a few reports of a fight; a few references to coat hanger abortion; report of animal killed in accident; a few reports of murder; characters find animal and human corpses many times, sometimes with grotesque injuries; characters find mortally ill people a few times; a few characters injure themselves in accidents; a character throws things at another in a fit of rage; a woman slaps her adult daughter; a character injures himself in a fit of rage; a man is beaten to unconsciousness; a character has to carry a dead body; an animal dies of disease; report of an animal killed by neglect, with a description of its corpse; a character throws objects at a child; character suffers from an infected wound; men hit or beat women a few times; animals are killed by beheading (blood described); a few fights in which animals wound and kill each other; a fistfight with broken bones and blood; characters have frightening or spooky nightmares a few times; frightening scene in which a character is being chased and is grabbed by a bleeding, grotesque person; a few creepy scenes in which character are trapped in the dark and pursued by monsters; a character is stalked by animals in a tense scene; spooky scene involving a séance; a vehicle wreck results in property damage; a few instances of infrastructure, buildings, and equipment being blown up or intentionally burned; a building is destroyed by natural disaster; a few characters are murdered by suffocation; a few characters commit suicide; a few people are executed; a few characters are shot to death;  a few characters are killed in an accidents; a few characters die of drug overdose; a character is crucified; a man rapes a woman; a few vehicles are bombed with some casualties; a character pushes another to a deadly fall; many people killed in an explosion; animals are killed; many characters die of disease; the grotesque effects of a disease are described; animal eats another animal with gore described; a few graphic scenes in which people are shot or stabbed to death, with blood, bone, graphic injuries, and entrails described; a few characters are beaten and shot, with graphic injuries described; description of a decaying corpse; a character suffers from a wound infection, with graphic details given; an animal is slaughtered for food, and the process is described; a character is badly burned, with injury described; a character pulls a corpse's arm off; a grisly scene involving mass burials; an explosion with deaths and bloody injuries, with severed body parts described; illustration shows a gunshot victim with a bloody wound; a character bleeds to death from graphic injuries; a character is burned to death; a character suffers grotesque burns and disfigurement (this is illustrated). 

Sex/Nudity:  Characters flirt verbally, hold hands, hug, and kiss many times; an adult woman kisses a teen briefly; a few instances of men looking desirously at a woman; a woman tries to seduce a man with verbal flirting while rubbing against him (clothed); a woman wears tight, revealing clothing; a woman runs naked in public; mention of a young boy and girl comparing their naked bodies curiously; a woman’s clothing is transparent when it gets wet; a man sees a woman’s naked body as he helps her get dressed (not sexual); brief discussion about whether a character is gay; a woman’s breasts beneath her tight shirt are described; a corpse is naked; a few characters are naked without sexual connotation (dressing, bathing, etc.); a woman looks appreciatively at her own naked body in the mirror; a safety poster has naked cartoon pictures (not sexual, and this is described not illustrated); a discussion of sex in clinical terms; a character considers having an abortion; birth control methods mentioned or discussed a few times; parents have discussions with their adult children about sex a few times; a few brief, non-sexual descriptions of a woman's breast size; reference to a "gang bang"; mention of strippers; a few discussions about the morality of abortion and whether it is murder or not; a brief description of childbirth symptoms; mention of “spooning”; a few mentions of masturbation; a minor boy looks a woman up and down appreciatively; a man looks lustfully at another man, and his physical excitement is described; mention of whorehouses; a few mentions of rape; mention of animals breeding; mention of a erotic dream (no details): a character finds a used condom; a few mentions of venereal disease; remark that a male character is well-endowed physically; a man considers sleeping with a woman; reference to a woman being good for bearing children; reference to semen in a clinical context; mention that riding motorcycle makes a character desire sex;  mention that a man is sexually aroused; a few discussion of a characters' sexual orientation, one of which is a minor; mention of couple trying to “make a baby”; speculation that a male adult had sex fantasies about his own daughter; characters discuss sex with few details; crude reference to male anatomy; brief description of crude sexual graffiti; reference to anal sex; reference to being “horny”; a man touches a woman’s clothed breasts; several non-detailed reports of couples having sex (one of these couples is two men); mention of an orgy; a few mentions of report of oral sex; man remembers a one-night stand, with details about the woman's naked body described; report of a teen girl having sex with teen boys and an adult man (on separate occasions); a few reports of a man visiting prostitutes; a few reports of an extramarital affairs; a woman remembers having sex, with some minor details given; report of man cutting woman’s private parts as punishment; report of men forcing minors to perform sexual acts; character has erotic dreams (no details); a few scenes in which characters flirt or caress and it’s implied that sex follows; report that a minor boy and an adult woman engage in erotic play and both oral and anal sex; report of woman masturbating in front of a minor boy; a few mentions of X-rated movies or porn; mention of topless dancing; a child looks at and is excited by a pornographic magazine; a character has sadomasochistic fantasies about women; report of children looking at pornography; crude pornographic graffiti is on a wall; man touches a woman under her shirt; a man sleeps naked, then dances in a sexy manner after waking; teen looks up a woman’s clothing, and she is naked underneath; a man beats and kicks a naked woman; a woman wears a shirt that reveals part of her nipples; a man suggests that another man perform oral sex on him; report of attempted rape; mention of oral sex in a metaphor; a character finds dead bodies and considers fondling a female one; a few references to coat-hanger abortion; a few characters masturbate (no details given); a character tries to buy a woman for sexual services; discussion of whether sex in marriage is rape; report of woman repeatedly raped and forced to give sexual favors to men; an adult woman thinks about wanting a minor boy to have sex with her; brief, but crude, description of oral sex; a man and woman have sex, with small amount of description; a woman masturbates, while clothed, in front of men; a minor watches an adult couple having sex (they do not know he is watching); a man rapes a woman, with a few details given; a explicit sex scene between two men involving mutual masturbation and one participant sodomizing the other with the barrel of a gun; an adult woman and minor boy discuss sexual fantasies, and they caress each other’s privates until he has an orgasm.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Plague/pandemic; biological warfare; mention of cannibalism; death (parent, child, sibling, spouse, friend); abortion (is considered, discussed in terms of morality/philosophy, and one method of abortion is described); unplanned pregnancy is a major theme in the plot; suicide (mentioned, reported, carried out); religious views of suicide are discussed; child abuse (considered); extreme poverty; domestic violence; murder; theft; drug dealing; arms dealing; rape (mentioned, reported and carried out); capital punishment and public execution; terminal illness; terrorism (mentioned); kidnapping (reported); arson; rioting; police and military brutality against civilians; martial law; bullying; animal neglect; prostitution (mention); mental disability; racial discrimination; adult sex with minors: arson; mental illness (pyromania); drug smuggling (reported); homosexuality; lesbianism and bisexuality (mention); slavery (mention); torture (mention); discrimination based on sexual orientation; mention of lynch mobs; brief mention of eugenics/regulating sex to maintain a good gene pool; physical disability; runaway child.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults and minors drink alcohol and smoke tobacco; drug addiction is a major plot element; adults smoke marijuana; report of driving under the influence (alcohol and marijuana); cocaine, uppers, downers, pot, heroin, and birth control pills are all mentioned; characters have various illegal drugs in their possession; characters use medication to sleep; a character takes morphine for pain; characters drug others to keep them complacent.

Reviewed By Calinda
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