An incident at a military base causes a pandemic flu to spread across the world and kill 99% of the population. The American survivors, those who were immune for unknown reasons, march all across the land to find others and form new communities. Two major forces start ruling this post-apocalyptic world. On one side, the god-fearing Mother Abagail in Colorado, on the other, the ruthless Randall Flagg (the Dark Man) in Las Vegas.
This was my horror pick for the month, and my feelings about it are mixed.
On the one hand, I am impressed by the execution. But then Stephen King always impresses me in that regard. This is a very ambitious novel and King manages to slowly bring up the tragedy. The first half is particularly well-done because it is a realistic account of the difficulties and fears a survivor of an apocalypse would have to face; thus demonstrating the author's knowledge of human nature.
Having said that, there are many aspects of this book that gradually made me lose interest in it. First of all, Randall Flagg was not as compelling as he could have been. Simply because the superflu itself was so much scarier than he. As for Mother Abagail, she was so annoying with her god that I almost wanted her to lose. Some more complex characters, such as Nadine Cross and Harold Lauder, made the second half more interesting. But in the end, the novel suffered from a series of anti-climatic plot resolutions that undermine the achievements of the first half. Too bad.