The Stand By Stephen King
The easiest thing to say about The Stand is that it scares you on so many different levels. But that is the easy way out, because this is not really a horror story in the classical sense. Yes there is suspense here. But there is so much more to this one. There is romance, adventure, betrayal, the battle between good and evil, and so much more to look at. Say what you will about Stephen King, he is the master of character development. Each character in this book is expertly crafted, with personalities and facets of reality. There are supernatural qualities to Mother Abigail and the Walking Man Randall Flagg, yes. But there are so many "regular people" just doing what they need to do to survive. Nick Andros, the deaf-mute who befriends the mentally challenge Tom Cullen on their trek to join Mother Abigail, Larry Underwood, the pop singer who becomes a hero, Stu Redman, the reluctant hero and so many others, rich in detail, and so perfectly created, they could be your neighbors.
Stephen King never makes anything simple. The layers of this story are fantastic. I read this the first time before they restored the original text and it seemed to be missing that undefinable something, but the complete version sparked my interest, and I read the entire book in one sitting. Yes all eleven hundred odd pages. I love to be scared when I read, but with this one, King takes it to a whole other level. Not only could this happen, governments being what they are, but who's to say it hasn't in some small way already? This book has it all, the romance between survivors Stu and Frannie, the jealous "other man" who learns too late that he has been used and discarded by those he trusted. The Stand is a modern classic of government gone horribly wrong, of faith rewarded and of the triumph, however temporary, of good over evil. The Stand has something for every reader, and I read this one often and find new things every time.