"The Stand" Stephen King

Book Cover

TheStandis ultimately a tale of good versus evil. Like the best tales of goodversus evil, there are people who personify good, people who personifyevil, and the majority who are some of both, but must choose sides.

This all begins with a small virus, one with a death rate of around99.9%. This leaves America (and the rest of the world, but the entirestory takes place in the United States) with a much reduced population.A sociologist who is a character in the book suggests that people willbegin with small settlements, basically resettling the world. But, atleast in the United States, there emerge two polar opposites: RandallFlagg and Mother Abigail. Flagg is not human; Abigail is definitelyhuman (and more than 100 years old).

After "the end of the world as we know it," the two polar oppositesbegin gathering people to them, mostly through dreams. People beginforming groups, heading to Nebraska, where Mother Abigail is, or to LasVegas, where Flagg is. The point is the journey, though, although theultimate climax is satisfying, the journeys are the heart of the story:the journey from "civilization" to the polarization of the world, andthe journey of people who are not sure if they are good or bad, and thejourney resulting in the confrontation.

The central cast of characters includes a man from East Texas, a deafand dumb man, and several others. (My only serious criticism of the bookis the dearth of strong female characters, except for Mother Abigail.)The uncut version is richer, with more detail as to each character. Thelength is daunting to most people, but not, I am sure, to the avidreaders who visit ClubReading.

King's strength here, as in all of his books, is in the characters.Because he follows these characters so closely, they come alive. Stu andNick and Larry are friends of mine, and could be of yours as well.

"The Privilege of Youth" Dave Pelzer

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