It took me an awfully long time to read The Stand. I started in February and I planned to read a chapter a day which would have had me finish on the 14th May but that really didn’t happen. Most annoyingly I bought a brand new copy of this book from an actual bookshop and I tell you what a waste of money and paper.
I unknowingly bought the second edition which had an extra 400 pages in (great) making this the longest book I have ever read. In my opinion, this book could have been 1000 pages shorter. I am not exaggerating, the story could have been told in 324 pages.
A brief summary of the plot: a weaponised strand of the flu kills 99% of the worlds population. The handful of survivors try to make their way in the new world but they are threatened by the approaching shadow of the dark man. A psychic link results in the survivors being drawn to one of two places the home of 108 year old Mother Abigail or Las Vegas where the dark man waits.
My issues with this book.
Firstly, too many characters. I like novels where there are multiple story lines and then they all converge at one point or another but in The Stand it is impossible to keep track of them all. The narrative leaves them behind for too long so by the time the story comes back around you are left thinking “who is this guy?”. It also means that you don’t care about them because you can’t get to know them. The narrative is too busy changing between all these different points of view.
Secondly, 75% of this book is people travelling across America. I mean walking, day after day, trying to find food and being scared. That is the majority of the book but it is played out 10 times because of all the different people. First you go through the struggle with one character, then the story jumps and you have to go through the whole boring rigmarole again with every other character. After a while, you get the point. America is a big place and the people are scared. Can we have a little more progression please?
Thirdly, the ending. It is so bad. I am not sure if it just feels worse because of all the tedium you have to go through to get there. But finally, you think now we are going to have some conflict, something which is going to make me turn the pages in desperation as was promised on the cover. Nope. No. I spent over 35 hours of my life on this book that I will never get back, I worked it out that’s how annoyed I am.
And why did I do it, for all you lovely people who read this blog. There is something to be said for completing a 1324 page book that you aren’t enjoying. I just am not sure what that is. Perseverance? Hope? Stubbornness? In my case I think it’s the last one.
Would recommend to: use as a fuel source is ever you find yourself in the midst of an apocalypse.