Review: The Stand: Soul Survivors by Stephen King

Note: The hardest part of starting a book blog is being inevitably in the middle of many series of fiction before and after doing so. In this case, however, it hardly matters since I think between volume 1, 2 and 3, only 100 pages of actual text from The Stand has been covered and not much has happened since volume 1. So onto the review! 

How did I get it: The library.

Why did I get it: I read the other two and enjoyed them. I also loved Nostalgia Critic’s review of IT  back in October, and was thinking about that when I saw this graphic novel on the shelf. I didn’t really set out, however, to find amusing and not-so amusing issues to have with this graphic novel. It just seemed to happen.

How would I rate it: 2 and a 1/2 out of 5 stars. (This is a shockingly poor rating anyway, but even sadder when this rating is compared to the 4 stars I gave to volumes 1 and 2 on GoodReads in February of this year.)

My Summary:
Oh, this is painful. Okay.

Deaf and mute Nick Andros makes a mentally challenged friend named Tom Cullen.* They bicycle around Oklahoma and survive a Randal Flagg-shaped tornado while having horrible dreams. Eventually they another plague survivor named Juliet Lawry who is a particularly awful person. Stephen King’s narrator lets us know we’ll see her again but meanwhile in another part of what remains of the United States, Larry meets Nadine who has a feral child who can play the guitar. So they don’t do much besides hang out with the feral child until he finds them a friend and they meet another woman.

In yet another section of what is probably a lot closer to Maine than the other two settings, Fran chronicles the strange not-love triangle between her, Stu Redman, and a sad angry nerd named Howard. They’re with some other people too and then they find even more people when they save women from crazy evil men who were drugging them and doing other awful things to them after killing their menfolk. By the way, everyone’s been having bad dreams by this point and it’s all about the man in black. He really gets around.

Anyway, Fran’s diary tells us more about her and Stu Redman but then we switch to a very old African-American woman who was born in 1902 or something. We follow her around as she kills chickens, fends off the man in black, racist stuff happens in the dreams he gives her, and every so often she remembers when she used to be pretty. Using the power of dreams and her faith in the Lord, she summons a bunch of white people over to her house to eat the chickens and figure out what to do only to wind up not doing it. I predict they will do very little in volume 4 and maybe do something in volume 5.

My Review:
Somehow the first two volumes felt a little more updated and revamped. This third volume felt like pure unfiltered but very abridged Stephen King. I myself prefer heavily diluted and very filtered Stephen King or, failing that, his short stories.

This graphic novel features some truly heinous things. And I don’t mean awful like the crazy men doing bad things to women. I mean awful as in there’s an actual Magical Negro and the volume features horrible, horrible attempts at dealing with handicapped people as well as people going through any sort of emotional problem or trauma. I wasn’t all that thrilled with the female characters in general either.

I found myself wishing over and over again that Stephen King would stop referring to the reader as “friends” which makes me feel as if every novel’s narrator is writing a Christmas letter he is sending out to everyone he knows about how his ne’er-do-well relatives are doing in post-Apocalyptic Maine. I am sure Stephen King intended only the best when he set out to call readers “friends,” but I personally believe that doing so is not and never was a cool thing to do. It doesn’t make a writer look hip at all. This is supposed to be a serious book, not an episode of The Dukes of Hazard. Furthermore, I don’t particularly want to be friends with any of the characters in this book or with the smug narrator of their cross-country nonsensical road trip during the End Times.

Another aspect of this volume that annoyed me to no end was the diary segment. If a character is writing in a diary, I don’t understand why they would keep writing out “diary.” An entire section of this graphic novel is Fran scribbling out sentences like:  “I have a crush on him, diary” and  “You wouldn’t believe what happened today, diary.” This is all paraphrased, of course. I think in the graphic novel she said something more along the lines of “crushable crush.”  The fact that Fran is also about thirty years old and not twelve just adds insult to injury.

I was surprised that, when Howard later found her diary, he didn’t get confused, read a few pages, and shout  “A-ha! This is, in fact, a diary and not a dictionary as I might have suspected had it not been carefully labelled throughout!”

Apparently Howard went on to keep one, but thankfully either King didn’t write those entries out or the adapter of this graphic novel didn’t add them in.

That said? It doesn’t strike me as particularly evil to read someone’s diary or keep one so until he actually does something about his weird feelings for Fran, Howard remains sad and embarrassing. I imagine he will do something heinous since this is Stephen King. I can’t remember what happens with him in the actual book this is based on.

Two and a 1/2 stars is probably overly generous, but the artwork is not bad, I think the adaptor made the best bricks he could out of the clay he was given, and I will be reading the next book in the series – The Stand: Hardcases.

Why? It may not be great, but it’s entertaining in some respects. Besides, it’s either read this graphic novel series as it slowly comes out or actually re-read The Stand.

* No, sadly he is not related to Edward, which would have been hilarious.

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About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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