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Published: 1978 (the complete & uncut edition which I read was published in 1990)
Genre: Horror/Fantasy/Science Fiction
Start Date: Oct. 6, 2011
Finished Date: Oct. 19, 2011 (14 days)
Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: For the SK Challenge but also because it's one of SK's most beloved books and I'd never (*gasp*) read it!
Read For: Stephen King Challenge (6/6)
Summary: After an apocalyptic virus wipes out most of the world's population, a scattering of survivors, including a quiet Texan, a pregnant college student, a nerdy teenager, a one-hit singer, and a deaf-mute, who all have dreams involving an evil Dark Man and a prophetic woman, form a progressive group to rebuild some form of society and order.
Finally...I read the book deemed to be Stephen King's magnum opus. Like his similarly plotted but more contemporary Under the Dome, it's a massive, complex undertaking but the 1100+ pages fly by in waves, and I finished it in no time.
Stephen King fans will recognize a number of motifs: dreams, premonitions, hidden motives, shadows eclipsing seemingly decent people with the mask of an evil presence. Oh and there's cultural references, too, with song lyrics cropping up in an epitaph for each of the book's three parts. I dig King's taste in rock and roll music :)
The plot is impossible to explain without spoilers, so instead I'll make a short list of thoughts. I will try to be discrete with spoilers but please note the *SPOILER ALERT*:
- Nick was by far my favourite character. I love unlikely heroes and how they deal with being thrust into a role they didn't foresee or even want. His friendship with Tom brought out his best qualities as a sympathetic person. I thought his death was a bit cheap and written off too quickly, but his ethereal presence later on in Tom's mind made up for it.
- I wasn't that taken with Larry, though many readers like him. He didn't have very much going for him in the way of a personality. His relationship with Rita dragged on and it could have been better if it was Nadine he met from the start (which I read was how the movie showed it).
- The twist near the end with the Trashcan Man was fantastic! His role in the book puzzled me for some time, but never failed to fascinate and then it becomes clear.
- Nadine and Julie were just creepy. They almost made Randall Flagg sympathetic.
- I liked the idea that not all survivors had good intentions (how boring would it have been otherwise?).
- A lingering question remains with me...What is the condition of other countries post-virus? There are speculations about Europe, China and India (if I recall correctly) and there is a suggestion that Canada is in better shape than the U.S. (I think someone wanted to head that way), but the rest of the world's status is unknown.
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend