Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stephen King's "THE STAND"

The Stand by Stephen King


Ever wonder what you'd get if you put the Dustin Hoffman film Outbreak into a blender with The Lord of The'd end up with the epic dark fantasy novel The Stand by Stephen King!

A book that has parts of every genre in it but is all Stephen King.... 


The Stand is King's fourth novel, and is easily one of his best books. 

There is no simple way to describe the plot of the novel, so I will just say it like it is.

A deadly biological weapon is released on an unsuspecting America, a mutated version of the flu that has the potential to wipe out all of humanity.... needless to say that is very bad for mankind.

As a result, the US government does its best to cover up the truth and dispose of all evidence that suggests that the plague was a biological weapon devolved by the military, at all costs. Murder and destruction ensue and the world as we know it ends. 

The plague kills over 99% of the human population, and that's only the beginning....

After the plague the survivors of the flu all begin to have dreams, of either a 108 year old black woman or a dark man who goes by the name of Randall Flagg. Two societies are formed, one of good and one of evil. After that it is a struggle between the two societies for the souls of the remaining people in America. Who will win is unclear but what is clear is that someone will have to make a stand against the coming evil. 

Apocalypse is nothing new to fiction but King manages to craft an apocalypse that is uniquely American and has the eerie notion of reality to it. After all a killer disease is not so far fetched when you think about it... right? 28 Days Later anyone? 

Characters are King's strong suit and The Stand has some terrific characters in it. Stu Redman from the fictional town of Arnette, Larry Underwood an aspiring singer with the hit single "Baby can you dig your man?", Randall Flagg the dark man himself, Mother Abigail the 108 year old leader of the good survivors, the pyromaniac Trashcan Man and my personal favorite.... the deaf mute Nick Andros who becomes a prominent leader in the good society despite his handicaps. 

Also, let us not forget the lovable Tom Cullen, LAWS NO! M-O-O-N that spells Tom Cullen! Sorry about that, I had to throw that reference in there.

Anyway.... like I said the plot is anything but simple, it has great mix of the real and unreal that helps to get the reader involved in the story. To make you like or dislike the characters and to care about the fates that befall them. Good or bad.  

The writing is King at his best, there are references to The Lord of The Rings throughout the book and homages to numerous rock songs and the poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Also there is a Steinbeck quality to the book that is evident in the second half of the book where numerous characters must travel across the USA to meet up with other people and form the societies that will later go to war with one another. It truly is a story that spans the entire length of the country and makes you feel a sort of The Odyssey type vibe, only infused with a nostalgic feeling of classic Americana. 

The horror elements work well with the fantasy parts of the story and they all come together to make a book that is like no story you've ever read. One with magic and a battle between good and evil, man against monster. Only instead of taking place in some far off mythical land the story is grounded in the all to real expanse of the United States, making it seem all the more real. And perhaps all the more frightening.

I highly recommend this book to fans of all genres because this books has something for everyone in it, really I am not kidding! It is a large book, with a solid 1,439 page count. So be warned here and now that it is a REALLY big read, but I promise you that once you start reading you won't want to stop until you know how it ends. So if you find yourself with some available time and some lose pocket money, pick up a copy of The Stand and start reading. Lose yourself in the dark depths of King's imagination!

But I must tell you that if you have any misgivings about religion or spiritual stories that have to do with Christianity or "GOD", to not skip out on a good read simply because of those elements in the book. They in no way detract from the story or damage it. Quite the opposite in fact. Don't believe me? Read the book and find out. I lie to you not, I speak the truth!

In conclusion the book is one of the most unique and engaging books out there; the characters are top notch and the story will keep you turning those pages, waiting to see what happens next.    

Don't miss out on an awesome read, it is a fantasy novel true but it is unlike any you've ever read! After all how many epic fantasies do you that take place in the good'ol US of A? 

Its a book that will stay with you long after it is over and will haunt your dreams.... in a good way, I promise. 

So what are you waiting for, go get the book and start reading!


Comments and input is welcome and if you {the audience} has any requests or questions, post them in the comments below and I will do my best to address them......

Until next time this is "A Study In" signing off!  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

BBC's Sherlock

{A few words}
So, when one thinks of Sherlock Holmes you immediately think of a tight and proper English gent who wears a deerstalker hat and cape and of course the ever popular catch phrase "Elementary my dear Watson".... 

This however is not the case with Holmes.
But enough about the technicalities..... lets get into the review, shall we? 

{The review}
Most of us mainly know of Mr.Sherlock Holmes because of the Guy Ritchie films that have been released in the last few years. In those films the essence of Sherlock Holmes has been infused with an action steampunk vibe, with highly choreographed  fights and off beat humor. The spirit was there but, to me something just felt off about the films. But at the time it was the best depiction of Holmes and the time. 

Then out of a gracious twist of fate I discovered BBC's SHERLOCK, a TV series from the makers of the ever popular DOCTOR WHO. In SHERLOCK, Holmes ditches the Victorian Era in favor of a modern 21st century setting, complete with cell phones other forms of contemporary technology. Aside from the update the spirit of the original stories is alive and well, more so than in the Robert Downey Jr. version.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman is Watson, both actors have incredibly good chemistry together and are a huge step up from Jude Law and Downey. Cumberbatch plays Holmes as a quirky genius who uses his vast knowledge of crime to solve complex problems, simply because he likes the challenge of a puzzle and bores easily. But instead of the flamboyance of Downey, Cumberbatch is more scientific and withdrawn in terms of acting. You might think that that kind of approach might kill the show but because of the nature of Holmes's character this approach works more in the show's favor. In contrast Freeman is a down to earth everyman who is extremely likable and relatable. In short the characters are spot on and are an exact mirror of the ones in the stories!

Also the mysteries are interesting and very complex, in the Guy Ritchie version action trumped brain power. Action is a part of Holmes true but if one wants a good Sherlock Holmes story, the corner stone is always the mystery. Everything else is secondary. Thankfully Sherlock does not disappoint, In the 3 ninety minute episodes Sherlock finds a connection in serial suicides, cracks and ancient Chinese code and butts heads with his arch enemy in a game of wits. Each story keeps you on the edge of your seat and wondering just what could happen next episode. 

Also, if you had a hard time following the story in the Downey films you'll find that this problem is remedied in SHERLOCK. One can follow Sherlock's mental analysis of a crime with the help of POV shots showing you what he sees in a crime scene and the appearance of on screen text detailing the evidence in the scene. summary the acting is good, the stories are amazing and the show uses some interesting tricks to get you in the mind of Sherlock Holmes. I personally recommend SHERLOCK to fans of good TV, also if you happen to enjoy a good mystery story now and again. 

It brings a new perspective to the world's most famous detective and is a good example of a literary adaptation that remains faithful to its source material. 

Thus concludes my review!

{A brief note} 

This is my first review so, admittedly there is room for improvement, so comment and critique. Input is welcome. 

Also if you have any recommendations, suggest them to me in the comments and I will definitely consider them for my next post.

Until next time..... this is "A Study In" signing off.