THE STAND

EXPANDED EDITION: FOR THE FIRST TIME COMPLETE AND UNCUT (SIGNET)

King's fifth novel returns, 12 years after its first publication, with 230 of its original pages restored. There is also some new writing in the present 1,153 pages of what is now King's longest creation—all has been updated ten years to include references to AIDS, Roger Rabbit, and more recent happenings. But the plot is almost utterly the same, only with more incidents and details deepening the characters. Essentially, if you've read the novel in its shorter form, you've read the novel and don't need to read the new version—unless you're a King fanatic, of course. But what do the new pages do? They give a creamy expansiveness to the flow—but then also delay the book's getting into its big stride: the heat between the story's rival forces doesn't begin until about page 700. And, strangely enough, the long version is a faster, smoother read, less difficult to take in than the short version. Sadly, though, the story's most powerful pages—a very long description of N.Y.C. emptied of human life by a super-flu plague, and a trek through the darkness of a Lincoln Tunnel crammed with dead vehicles and dead people—comes around page 400 and is such a strong, intense passage that nothing that follows equals it. What one gets is King's proletariat cast enacting a story that takes itself seriously, but seems to spring from an imagination fed on comic books, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Bruce Springsteen. The story: a plague virus escapes from a California germ-warfare lab and knocks out nearly all human life. A small group of Americans, drawn from the East and West, gathers at Boulder, Colorado, and finds itself in psychic battle with the forces of evil—forces that are entrenched in Las Vegas and led by Satan in the guise of one Randall Flagg. A team of good guys infiltrates the bad guys, but it is the bad guys who bring about their own destruction with an atomic explosion—which is also seen as the hand of God engineering the Apocalypse. A last new touch has Flagg survive the bomb and start his campaign all over by perverting a primitive jungle tribe with civilization. For many, a haunting experience given its greatest life by scenes of devastation, although The Shining is artistically more complex and satisfying. And what can be said about the prole values King celebrates in book after book? Tiresome, man.

Pub Date: May 5, 1990

ISBN: 0451169530

Page Count: 1172

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1990

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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