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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapel Hill chapter.

A cult classic, The Stand by Stephen King is a staple for any fan of horror or science fiction. The premise? A weaponized strain of the flu kills over 99% of the world’s population. In the wake of COVID-19, what once felt like a far-fetched plot now seems to be an exaggerated version of the world in which we live. Since I’m isolating at home, I figured now is the perfect time to reread the 1200-page epic.

Looking back, my decision to read The Stand in the eighth grade wasn’t the best idea; really, no eighth grader (especially not one with OCD triggered by the thought of germs) should read anything written by Stephen King. Despite the fact that the content of the book was way too mature for 13-year-old me, I could still recognize that the novel is a masterpiece. I bought a copy of The Stand from Amazon, last week, and saw that the novel has skyrocketed to Amazon’s 13th most popularly requested book. This is no coincidence; The Stand, though popular, was published in 1978 and hasn’t topped charts for decades, until its newfound relevance. 

The entire world functions as a literary stage within which The Stand takes place, and King utilizes every square inch of the planet to tell his story. The book focuses on several select individuals, but King doesn’t gloss over the fact that almost everyone on planet Earth has perished. King continuously emphasizes the scope of the killer virus, Captain Trips, throughout the novel, following random individuals through their daily lives and describing how they infected their coworkers and cashiers at the grocery store without knowing. 

A few days ago, Donald Trump announced that the coronavirus would probably last no longer than a few weeks in the United States. In response, Stephen King helpfully tweeted a fragment from his audiobook of The Stand, in which he describes how rapidly Captain Trips spread from person-to-person. He did, however, take time to reassure his followers that the coronavirus is not nearly as deadly as the superflu that he imagined over 40 years ago.

As King reminded us, we shouldn’t compare COVID-19 to his superflu. However, The Stand offers insight into the spread of disease and conceptions of our post-corona world. Social distancing, though inconvenient, doesn’t seem like the worst idea when reading about an apocalyptic disease. If anything, rereading The Stand has reminded me that, regardless of how much I may dislike self-quarantine, it really is the best way to keep myself and others safe from illness.

A first-year at UNC-Chapel Hill, Isabelle is double majoring in Advertising and Public Relations and Dramatic Arts. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting and watching Derry Girls.