I was extremely hesitant to start Stephen King’s epic novel due to its 1,400+ page count and small font. When COVID-19 hit though, I decided to be masochistic and read it. I’m glad I did, even if it took me two months to finish it. The story sees the U.S. become ravaged by a gruesome (anyone squeamish should approach this book with caution) superflu called Captain Trips and only several thousand people survive in the aftermath. There are two leaders who captivate different groups of people: Mother Abagail, a 108 year old woman who draws in the good-natured people, and Randall Flagg, aka The Dark Man, who entices the more troubled individuals. The groups both war with each other and scare the other.
The book follows a number of characters, but the primary ones really stand out and make you root for them. They have fleshed out backgrounds and aren’t always likable but are wholly human. Each location feels authentic and lived-in, and I felt like I was practically there with the survivors. It takes a lot of skill to write a novel this complex, but King nails it. He even landed the ending on this one. Don’t let the length scare you off. The Stand is a masterpiece.