“First came the days of the plague. Then came the dreams.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
…and for a book that’s nearly 1500 pages long, that’s a signficant potential problem with implications on the reader’s personal hygiene, nutrition and gainful employment. So, in matter of fact it is eminently putdownable – out of sheer human necessity. It would, however, be churlish to point out that a book of this size is really quite difficult to pick up or indeed transport over any vertical distance in an upward direction. But I digress. The Stand is a wholly absorbing story and I had to read the last 400 pages or so in one frantic late night sitting (and I can think of quite a few frantic, late night activities).
The Stand is /the/ archetypal post-apocalypse story, writ through with a (I’m afraid, rather heavy-handed) religious message. This religious theme is somewhat troubling to the atheistic reader although it can, with effort, be accepted as a part of the story. King clearly takes a huge bite out of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for inspiration and above that, it is possible to divine (sorry!) the genesis (sorry!) of many more recent apocalypse stories; LaHaye/Jenkins’ awful “Left Behind” series, Mad Max and Swan Song. I suspect that even the Wachowski brothers probably called on The Stand when working up the Messianic and Adversary themes in The Matrix.