The Next Stephen King Book You Read Should Be 'The Stand'
Next to the eight-book Dark Tower series, Stephen King's The Stand is probably his most important book — a sprawling, post-apocalyptic novel that pitted the forces of good against the forces of evil in a fight for America's soul. I've got a number of reasons why The Stand should be the next Stephen King book you read.
Although King has been America's go-to horror author for more than 40 years, his work has endured several decades of mostly mediocre adaptations. Standing out from a crowd of B-movies and schlocky miniseries was The Stand, a four-part adaptation of King's 1978 novel of the same name, which aired on ABC in 1994. Starring Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, and Ruby Dee, the miniseries brought King's doorstop of a novel to life in a mostly faithful adaptation.
King's work entered somewhat of a renaissance phase in 2017, when Andrés Muschietti's IT: Chapter One and Nikolaj Arcel's The Dark Tower came to theaters, and Netflix brought 1922 and Gerald's Game to its platform, and he continues to rack up major points on- and off-screen in 2019. King's latest novel, The Institute, just landed in stores and has already been optioned for television as a limited series, and four of his novels and novellas — Pet Sematary, IT, In the Tall Grass, and Doctor Sleep — premiered or will premiere this year.
Now, with CBS All Access set to bring The Stand to life once again, with another great cast, it's high time you read, or re-read, King's fourth novel. Here's why The Stand should be the next Stephen King book you read:
'The Stand' Isn't A Traditional Horror Novel
Taking place at the end of the 20th century, The Stand chronicles the tragic events that take place when a biological weapon — Project Blue, a "superflu" colloquially known as Captain Trips — escapes containment in a U.S. military lab and infects the world. The new plague kills off more than 99 percent of the population, leaving the survivors to dream of the two figureheads who emerge in the aftermath — Mother Abigail, a kindly prophet, and Randall Flagg, a powerful sorcerer. Once the superflu has wiped out humanity, the real terror of The Stand, the fear that the evil Flagg will succeed in taking over the world, becomes evident.
'The Stand' Introduces One Of Stephen King's Most Prominent Villains
Fans of Stephen King (or Constant Readers) will recognize the name of Randall Flagg, who appears in several of King's novels and short stories. He is known as Flagg in The Eyes of the Dragon, and as the Man in Black, Marten Broadcloak, Walter Padick, and Walter o'Dim in the Dark Tower series. He also appears in Hearts in Atlantis as Raymond Fiegler, in Gwendy's Button Box as Richard Farris, and in "Children of the Corn" as He Who Walks Behind the Rows. No matter what name he uses, Flagg's intention, wherever he goes, is to sow discord and create the kind of chaos that will allow him to assume complete control of the population.
'The Stand' Is Stephen King's Longest Novel
If you're looking for the challenge of a "doorstop" novel, The Stand should be on your radar. When he first published the novel in 1978, King was forced to cut it in half, quite literally. As The New York Times reported in 1990, King removed 500 pages — or 150,000 words — from the 1978 version to make it salable. The 1990 re-release, styled as The Stand: Complete and Uncut, restored the missing half of King's novel, bringing its total length up to 1,153 pages, just ahead of IT's 1,138 pages.
'The Stand' Received Multiple Awards Nominations
'The Stand' Remains Timely Today
At a time when herd immunity is being destroyed by anti-vaccine movements, antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" threaten to kill otherwise healthy individuals, and the melting polar ice caps have some experts concerned about the release of ancient plagues upon the world, a novel in which most of the world's population is wiped out by a deadly virus is pretty dang relevant to our current situation. Although it's not necessarily a horror novel in the same vein as 'Salem's Lot or The Shining, The Stand is just familiar enough to make for a chilling read. And soon, it'll make for a chilling watch, as The Stand miniseries, starring Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abagail and Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg, is coming soon.