The Stand

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Stand

Book description

Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by virus and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published.

Soon to be a television series.

'THE STAND is a masterpiece' (Guardian). Set in a virus-decimated US, King's…


Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. (learn more)

Why read it?

15 authors picked The Stand as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The Stand will always be one of my favorite apocalyptic novels. The story not only tells of the struggle of the individual survivors of a great plague, but it shows the devastation and havoc that corruption—governmental and individual—can wreak on even the strongest of world powers. All it takes is one bad decision and the whole empire can come tumbling down. This was the first novel of its kind that I ever read—at the age of eleven, no less—and the genre remains my favorite to this day. The mood of the novel begins somewhat innocuously, but with a layer of…

From A.L.'s list on binge-worthy apocalyptic reads.

If you see this on a bookshelf, it looks intimidating. It’s a tome, to be sure. But The Stand is beloved for a reason. It’s an epic story of good versus evil that manages to feel biblical while still having nuance and compelling characters. The narrative of the main characters is propulsive, because you really care about them and root for them as they face terrifying odds. You’ll find it hard to put down even if you’ve read it many times over like I have. 

From Anthony's list on heart-pounding thrills.

What happens after the End of the World? Is the end really the end? Stephen King’s classic masterpiece about the ultimate battle between good and evil following civilization’s collapse wrestles with this very concept. In his timeless epic, King explores the personal toll inflicted on those few who survive Armageddon, and how they react to being pawns of greater powers, both holy and unholy. When I read it the first time, I asked myself how I would react if I were one of King’s characters. Which side would I truly be on? King’s themes of good and evil, and what…

King’s sprawling SF epic is really just a werewolf in science-fiction sheep’s clothing. A weaponized disease escapes the lab and kills most of the world’s population—the makings of a classic SF post-apocalyptic tale. But the appearance of archdemon-cognate Randall Flagg—much more of a fantasy villain than an SF villain—completely changes the tone (and the stakes). He’s not human, he’s a Dark Lord—Sauron in jeans and Western boots. Because of Flagg, as far as Good vs. Evil goes, it’s about as subtle as Piers Plowman, though King’s character-building is some of his best. In fact, the book is in most ways…

The Stand thrusts ordinary people into a desperate situation. What stood out for me was that the nature of the apocalypse itself or surviving the aftermath was not the focus of the book. Rather, it focuses on the tensions between the factions that arose after the fall of civilization. In a struggle that reflects those experienced on a global scale in reality, a democratic society must confront a totalitarian regime in a struggle for the fate of humanity. This clash of ideologies is a wonderful exploration of the different ways in which civilization might be rebuilt, and fuel for a…

The Stand is a big book. It is big in scope at over a thousand pages (and do read the full version; when the abridged version is 800+ pages, you may as well go all in). It is also big in its treatment of Captain Trips, the fictional disease that kills over 99% of the human population. 

King asks—and answers—pragmatic questions. How would people get the electricity back on? How would they manage the removal of diseased corpses? 

But he also asks—and invites readers to answer—philosophical questions. Are humans fundamentally good or evil? Are there things that go beyond the…

From Pamela's list on that make our pandemic look mild.

Stephen King has acknowledged that Earth Abides was a source of inspiration for his blockbuster novel, The Stand. This is a huge book (1,420 pages in the edition I have) with a vast array of characters. In addition to the pandemic itself, King brings in storylines involving elements of fantasy, religion, and horror. In spite of its immense size, the novel generally manages to keep the story moving along at a brisk pace though. I found the opening chapters by far the best; they convey a creepiness about things being “not quite right” (a dying man driving his car…

From Huw's list on post-apocalyptic science fiction.

I generally don’t like what I call Woo-Woo (supernatural elements) in novels, but The Stand blew me away! In fact, it was so impactful to me (along with the 1st three on this list) I referred to my 1st book as being “The Stand” without paranormal. In these days of the Covid Pandemic, the beginning of the novel seems very realistic. The characters, who the reader gets to know intimately are incredibly real human beings, and as the plot draws the participants together, I couldn’t help but be pulled along with them. I highly recommend the “uncut” version, partly because…

From Robert's list on those good old apocalypse days.

Stephen King’s classic dystopian novel, written by the true master of storytelling.

A terrible plague ravages America and civilization collapses. The few survivors all have the same two dreams, one is of an ancient black woman in Nebraska, who plays the guitar and sings gospel songs. The other is of the Dark Man, the Walking Dude – a terrifying nightmare figure. Soon, the people realise that they are going to be called upon to take sides. To choose between Good and Evil.

It’s a long book and I made the mistake of beginning to read it at tea time. By…

I was so happy when the expanded version of The Stand was released because my fourth or so re-read had new stuff in it. Lots of new stuff, including my favorite section, "The Unkindest Cut", in which we briefly meet a random selection of flu survivors who run into some untimely ends, both deserved and not so much. The characters stand out as one of the best post-apocalyptic novels ever written, IMO, although oddly enough I have not read it since the pandemic started.

Want books like The Stand?

Our community of 6,000+ authors has personally recommended 10 books like The Stand.

Browse books like The Stand

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in good and evil, dystopia, and magic-supernatural?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about good and evil, dystopia, and magic-supernatural.

Good And Evil Explore 83 books about good and evil
Dystopia Explore 243 books about dystopia
Magic-Supernatural Explore 400 books about magic-supernatural