As many of you know Trish (Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity), graciously hosted the (9 week long) Standalong which gave many readers the opportunity to read and discuss and post about this massive tome (my copy 1,100+ pages -- thank goodness I had the eBook). Not feeling my bloggy-best over the last 9 weeks, I wasn't much of any active participant...sorry...but I did manage to finish the book.
My rambling thoughts....what an intense story that caused me to flinch every time a coworker, friend or family member coughed or sneezed nearby. In a nutshell, an accident at an Army lab doing experiments in biological warfare, causes a virus to break through its isolation confinements. Everyone working at the facility dies rather quickly, except one worker, a security guard, Charlie Champion, who manages to rush home, grab his family and head out of town -- rather out of state, but not before contaminating them. Along the way they contaminate others who cross their paths, and those people infect others and so on and so on until over 99% of the world's population is exterminated. Of course, Charlies family dies an awful death as exhibited by their bloated smelly corpses.
Fast forward -- The survivors begin to have vivid dreams which draw and divide them into (2) camps -- good versus evil -- a 108 year-old black woman in Nebraska, Mother Abagail representing the "good", and the Dark Man, Randall Flagg, an evil force in Las Vegas rallying the "bad". Not everyone mentally equipped or ready to be lone survivors on Earth, but each group recognizing that the opposing group is threatening the other's survival.
More rambling thoughts - I liked the book, but after the first 1/3, it became easier to put the book down, and read other books in between. There were just so many characters in this cautionary tale, but I did like I was able to get good feeling about the psyche of several of the characters. As a reader I felt like I understood what motivated them to act the way they did. I also liked the way King positioned them to come together later in the novel. I can understand why it is considered probably one of King's best works, but after I was finished I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. It's very well written, but it's not my favorite Stephen King book -- the ending wasn't a surprise for either.