Do not read this when you have a cold or the flu. Or even allergies. It'll make you very, very uncomfortable. In the same way that hearing the word "itch" makes you itchy, reading the beginning of this book will make you feel like you might have the plague.The first quarter of the book is about the outbreak of a superflu, and (I'm pretty sure this isn't a spoiler) the rest of it is dedicated to what happens after most of mankind is wiped out. It's part science thriller, part apocalypse, part dystopia (or maybe utopia depending on how you want to look at it). There's a lot of good stuff packed in here. There's discussion about society, religion, morality...it's all here.There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and there are bound to be a few that you feel awfully attached to. The book is easy to follow, easy to read. It may be over 1,000 pages, but it doesn't feel anywhere near that long--a huge accomplishment on the part of King.This is my second Stephen King novel, and I'm beginning to wonder if he has a problem with women. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but I do want to just note it here. If that kind of thing bothers you, maybe skip this one. Here's a quotation from the strongest female character in the novel: "Women's lib...was nothing more nor less than an outgrowth of the technological society...Before civilization, with its careful and merciful system of protections, women had been slaves...And the Women's Credo...was just this: ...Thank you, Men, for the hospitals, the police, the schools. Now I'd like to vote, please, and have the right to set my own course and make my own destiny. Once I was chattel, but now that is obsolete...Thank you, Men. "...lying here in the night, she knew that she needed a man. Oh God, she badly needed a man."Yeah, seriously. And like I said, that's from the strongest female character. The men in this book seem to view women as things (no, not really people) that needed to be protected. Those are the good men. The bad men in this book viewed women as sex objects. And the women, every woman that rated more than two sentences, either needed a man for protection or traded herself for sex in one way or another. There are clearly defined roles for the men and women even in this post-societal world. This hits the root of anti-feminism to me: women can only overpower men when they use their sexuality. And when they do, it's sneaky. I'm not a fan of this viewpoint.Okay, so that long rant may not sound like me giving him the benefit of the doubt, but I still gave the book four stars, didn't I? I had a hard time putting it down (which is amazing considering it's over 1,000 pages long) and loved the ideas behind the story. I've read apocalyptic fiction before, but this takes you through the whole thing from the beginning when the world was normal.