The Stand by Stephen King really has nothing to do with new adult characters. I mean, there are young people in there and they have to grow up fast and all that, but it’s got a classic good vs. evil plot going.
If that’s where it ends, I’d be done here. Why bother, right? But it’s not. As per usual, the questions we get to answer each week for Feature and Follow (Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read) get me thinking. This week it was Who's your favorite villain and while my favorite conflict is internal, I have two book blogs so I needed two answers. So my favorite villain was Randall Flagg of The Stand.
I was surprised to learn that some people have never read this book!!!!!! I swear, that blew me away. Now that I think about it, it’s not so unusual. Lots of book bloggers are very young and I’m not all that young these days, and this book was already a classic when I picked it up the first time (I won’t say how long ago, but let's just say long enough ago that many of you might not have been born!)
Anywho, if you’ve never read The Stand let me tell you why it’s such an important story in the world of present-day young/new adult books – it was the very first present day dystopian (i.e. post – apocalyptic) book I ever read. And, I’m not 100% sure, but I’m pretty sure, it was the first book that introduced the idea of the Superflu as the downfall of humanity.
The Superflu is all over the place now – hell, we got Bird Flu, Swine Flu and all kinds of shit that’s for real, so it’s not too hard to imagine that a flu virus can wipe us out. But back then, when I first read this book, this was NEW.
The Stand scared the shit out of me. Not the devil Randall Flagg, although he did scare me – this is SK after all – but the imagery King painted in my mind about not being able to get out of town because the freeways were clogged with cars filled with dead people, or all the little things you take for granted that suddenly disappear (you know, like running water), or watching your family all die in front of you, yet you never get sick because for some reason you are one of the very few people on Earth who are immune to this particular virus.
It freaked me out – seriously freaked me out.
So why am I writing about the Superflu and Stephen King today? Because this is not the first time it occurred to me that there are recurring themes in literature - I touched on this a few weeks ago when I Re-Stacked my Shelf with Across the Universe - a book about a generation ship straight out of classic Heinlein.
Of course, most of us have heard that all plots are old. There are no new stories, only new ways to tell them. But if you don’t go back in time and read these things, you miss that little nugget if information. So that’s part of the reason I push this Retrograde day – because I think older books are worth reading. And Stephen King’s The Stand is really the great-granddad of all current dystopians that are so popular right now.
The superflu should scare the shit out of you because it’s real. It happened in 1918 when the Spanish Influenza killed between 20 MILLION and 50 MILLION people in ONE YEAR.
Think about it. This flu – that occurred less than one hundred years ago – was one of the most devastating diseases to ever sweep the Earth and rivaled, maybe beat, the Black Death of the early Renaissance period.
Of course, we have some anti-virals these days, but as far as defenses go, against the flu we are pretty much helpless. The flu is not a living thing, but it acts like one. It can’t replicate on its own, but it can change your body and take it over to make little virus clones that will pop out of your cells. It can rewrite your genome, as we know from HIV, and it can’t be killed with antibiotics.
Stephen King came up with this very plausible idea of how humans might fall, then coupled it with an End of Days apocalypse that literally split the United States into Good and Evil. It’s a long book – but it’s good one. Worth one whole post on New Adult Addiction because lots of authors piggy-backed on King’s genius.
And I think that’s worth knowing.
Last Week at New Adult Addiction
- REVIEW: One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy
- Stacking the Shelves #4
- REVIEW: Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens
- Feature and Follow #16
- COVER REVEAL: Corded by Alyssa Rose Ivy
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This Week at New Adult Addiction:
- Top Ten Tuesdays - Top Ten Settings I'd Like To See More Of
- Book Blitz Grimm Diaries
- Feature and Follow
- REVIEW: Losing It by Cora Carmack