Monday, July 16, 2007

The Stand by Stephen King

This was a long, but incredibly entertaining book. Although there were a few rather graphic scenes, it was still worth the time I put in to it, and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, LOST fan or not. While this book was not seen or mentioned specifically in any episode of LOST, It was said to be an inspiration for the series by its producers. There are many similarities in form as well as content. This particular blog may be a work in progress as there really is a lot to cover, so bear with us...
  • First of all, The Stand is essentially a character driven narrative. Much like LOST, the main characters are faced with a huge catastrophe in which they are the survivors. The story from this point is molded by the characters, their personalities, and choices.
  • A few of the characters in the book are very similar to those in LOST as well, in fact these characters deserve their own list...
    • Larry Underwood - The most notably similar characters are that of the one-hit wonder rockstars Larry Underwood and Charlie Pace. Both of these characters had to overcome the demons of their rocker pasts, drugs, women, financial woes, and most of all selfishness. However through the course of the book, Larry becomes one of the most endearing characters as he struggles to turn his life in the right direction. In the end he willingly sacrifices his own life in order to save his friends from the "others" or "bad guys".
    • Fran Goldsmith - Fran is young, attractive, and pregnant. Much like Claire on the island, she split up with the child's father prior to the plague. She has a constant fear throughout the book that the "dark man" is coming after her baby. Just like Claire and her fear of the others coming to take her baby. Fran also has a fear that the child will contract the sickness that the rest of the survivors are immune to. This is also similar to the fear of some vague sickness that is supposedly on the island.
    • Randall Flagg, "The Dark Man" - There are a few different possibilities with this one. This is the main bad guy of the book, the leader of The Stand's version of the "Others". There are a few similarities to Ben, especially in his mode of flattery and manipulation, however Ben seems a bit too cowardly and lacks the pure evil that embodies Flagg. Flagg wears a yellow smiley face button on the right breast of his denim jacket. Ben claims to have crashed in a balloon whose canopy sported a big yellow smiley face.
    • Harold Lauder - This one doesn't really become apparent till later in the third season, but I feel like Harold and Locke have quite a bit in common. They both seem to have an overwhelming need to prove themselves to the rest of their group. They have come from past lives where they were not taken seriously, and are determined to change that. They both start out with the "good guys" but as time goes on they make a move to the other side. The transition from good to evil is much more apparent in Harold than it is in Locke, but both seem to be rooted in selfish desires. They both participate in the sabotage of people that were once considered their friends. Once they have made their way to the other side, both of them narrowly survive an assassination attempt. Harold by Flagg, Locke by Ben. Both contemplate suicide, but only Harold actually goes through with it.
  • Throughout the course of the book, there are several cultural references, including Books, Music, Film and Literature. A few of these are also mentioned in LOST, a few notable ones include: The Bible, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, The Wizard of Oz, Watership Down, and Shakespeare (The Tempest, a story where there is a shipwreck on an island).
  • Both The Stand and Lost deal with the rebuilding of a society after a huge catastrophe. The plague, and the plane wreck.
  • Vivid dreams and visions seem to occur frequently in both.
  • The description of old dynamite 'sweating' and producing nitro glycerine is discussed by Harold Lauder, just as is is brought up by the science teacher that gets blown up in Lost.
  • The Van that Hurley finds is started up in the same fashion as the car Stu Redman and Tom Cullen find in the Stand.
  • No one is safe from death. It doesn't mater how much you like a certain character, or how much they've been built up by the author, or director. They still might go and die on you.
  • Numbers: The spiritual Leader of the survivors of the plague, Abigail Freemantle, is 108 years old, which is the sum of all the numbers in Lost.
  • When the 4 characters go to make their "Stand" against Flagg and Company, 3 continue while one is sent back toreport of the fate of the other three. This senario is similar to the end of season 2 when Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley go to make a stand agaisnt the Others and Hurley is sent back.
  • There are murmurings later in the book among the people residing in Las Vegas whether Flagg is the one to lead them in the future. There are obvious similar murmurings among the Others on whether Ben is the one chosen to lead them in the future.
  • Many characters have passed away yet have come back in dreams to warn others that are left or to give advice. In the Stand, Nick frequently comes to Tom in dreams and eventually helps save Stu. Boone is a frequent dream visitor to Locke and was able to give John advice to save Eko's life.
Next Book: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dosoyevsky/The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

This book is referenced in multiple occasions but is not actually seen in LOST. Once in the first season, Shannon speaks of the Mysterious Freaking Island. Also, later in the third season, Charlie makes a quasi-breakfast in bed for Claire. When she asks what it is, he replies "an assortment of Mysterious Island fruits."

My Opinion:
There are many similar plot lines in this book, however I might discourage anyone from reading this book. It has a section in the book of about 15 chapters that reads like a 1800's instruction booklet on how to survive being marooned on an island. Unless you want to know how to make bricks from scratch, how to mine for iron ore, or, my personal favorite chapter, how to tell if a plant is edible or not (25 freakin' pages on vegetation), then I would suggest merely reading this synopsis or buying the cliff-notes. Needless to say it wasn't my favorite read. I would compare it to Moby Dick in that you kind of have to sift through the boring information to find anything entertaining that could have been summed up in about ten chapters.

LOST References:
* In the Mysterious Island, a handful of people survive a Hot-Air Balloon crash in the 1800's and land on a deserted island. On this deserted island, many unexplained things begin to happen. Not to point out the obvious but, a hot air balloon was that times version of a plane, therefore the plot lines are very similar.
*One survivor is a golden retriever dog named Top. This dog seems to have a heightened sense of what is happening on the island. Vincent is a very similar character in LOST.
* In the LOST Experience an old Ape was introduced as part of the Dharma Initiative's life expansion project. This Ape was known as Joop. In the Mysterious Island, the survivors meet an orangutan who they befriend and add as a servant. His name is Jupiter, which they call Jupe for short.
*The first book of Mysterious Island is all dedicated to the survivors discovering ways to continue surviving, ie. finding water and food sources, finding shelter learning about the islands layout. The first season of LOST is developed the same way (though a tad bit more entertaining).
*The survivors in the Mysterious Island discover that they are not alone on the Island and they end up battling the Others (a band of pirates) for ownership of the island.
*The survivors had setup wires between their home and their corral so as to be able to telegraph between the two. They are messaged by a mysteriuos person to go to the corral where they find a new wire which they follow. This wire leads to the Ocean. There is also a mysterious wire which leads to the ocean in LOST which Hurley finds.
*The survivors in the book wait for the tide to leave and follow the wire to the edge of the ocean where there is a drop off. This wire goes below the island as there are caverns underneath this drop off. Using a boat they are able to follow it under the ocean/island and come to a dry spot where the wire stops at a hatch. They open this hatch and find a light shining many feet below the opening. The obvious hatch connections are there in LOST, and not to mention the wire leading to a new place, as it did in LOST (to the Looking Glass). When Locke opens the hatch he too sees a light.
*When the survivors explore the hatch they find a room with many books that appears to be a library. When the Losties go under and open the hatch they find a place with many books as well.
*In the book, the survivors come upon one single person inside the hatch, Captain Nemo. Nemo prior to his arrival on the island, had been an outcast from the military and chose to get a boat/submarine and sail across the world. After his arrival on the Island he had lost all of his shipmates/co-workers to death and was left all alone. He since had been helping the people on the island without them knowing it. In LOST the losties, found a single person in the hatch, Desmond. In his prior life he had been dishonorably discharged from the military (still not 100% sure why) and afterwhich he gets himself a boat (from Libby) so he can sail around the world. Upon his arrival on the island, his co-worker Kelvin dies (at his hands) and he is left all alone. By pressing the button every 108 minutes, he is saving the people on the islands life without them knowing it.
My opinion continued -
I believe that Desmond is a composite of Jules Verne Characters. I believe he has a bit of Ayrton in him in that he was in prison and seeks redemption. I obviously believe he has quite a bit of captain Nemo in him (who is a character from both the Mysterious Island and 20,000 leagues under the sea. I also believe his storyline of a race around the world comes directly from around the world in 80 days.
Next Book : The Stand by Stephen King