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.