Do not be mistaken. There’s still plenty of corporeal destruction and disarray for the nihilistic consumers among us to lap up, but it’s just the icing on this gruesome cake. Indeed, far more disturbing than the physical, disease-driven downfall of America depicted in this telling, are the psychological horrors unveiled by society’s reaction to it. These King portrays masterfully.
Our government has lost its new toy. People are dying by the millions. Quarantine’s given way to martial atrocity, and the nation is slipping into chaos. Then we come upon the impetus. We discover those dark, outlying bunkers beneath the desert wastelands of California never held our greatest threat. They merely held its catalyst.
The points of view range in the dozens. The crossroads and conurbations of our country alike wither and die before our eyes. (And, of course, the ever-present ruin of New York can be found in all its shocking glory.) The best and the worst in men rage to the surface. Thus results a grand allegory encompassing vengeance, love, envy, damnation, and redemption. Published by Doubleday in May of 1990, the unabridged version of this epic spans some 1152 pages and delivers on every single one of them (the original was published by Doubleday & Co. in 1978). I highly recommend reading this contemporary classic.