You would think that a book about the plague - any plague - would be interesting and would leave you wanting to know what happens next. I think that this book could have done that because the main story behind it, the description of and interaction with the characters, and the ending were all good. However, the overload of description of insignificant things as well as the repetitiveness take away from all of those good aspects.
I think that this story could have been shortened quite a bit. The story seemed to be stretched out only to make the book longer rather than make it more interesting. It gave the same description of the plague-striken town over and over again - nothing in the description really changed significantly once the plague hit. The people felt as if their world was ending and they wanted their loved ones. That's the basic feeling that was going through the town throughout the entire story.
A good example of dragging out the story is when Rambert is trying to get out of the town. He meets with his "connections" and least five times. Was that really necessary? He didn't even end up leaving. Also, I think that too much detail was given to things that were of no real importance. Small things like what the sun looked like bouncing off of the street and how empty the streets were when the disease settled in. The streets were empty - enough said. Granted, a story is nothing without a little detail and description, but there is a limit. When too much emphasis is placed on things that aren't important, something is definatley taken away from the story itself.
The description of the characters was very well done (there should have been more of that rather than repeating the same boring details about the town). I think that in order to make the characters more memorable and to let the reader connect a little more with them, they must be very well understood. Maybe not so much in the physical sense, but one must have a good idea of the personality of the characters. All of the people in the "main group" of friends were portrayed very well.
I would have to say that Rieux was my favorite character. He was genuine through the whole ordeal. He really always cared about the same thing - helping people. All he ever wanted to do was to save (or at least try to save) the ill. He wanted his wife back and she never left his mind while he struggled like everyone else to cope with the plauge. Rieux knew, however, that he could do nothing more for his wife than the doctors that she was with could. Even after he received news of her death, he continued to help the sick. I think that was his main priority. That's why he became a doctor. Cottard was also a good character. He was kind of strange and misunderstoond, I think. All he wanted was the escape whatever crime he had committed. This was why he tried to hang himself. This, also, was the reason that he seemed unaffected by the plague. It could even be said that he was happy about it. With the plague settling in, noone cared anymore what Cottard had done. He didn't have to worry about the police putting him in prison and taking him from his "normal" life. When the plague ended, Cottard feared that authorities would once again become concerned with him. This caused Cottard to lose it. He finally gave in to what he had been running from this whole time and let the police take him away.
Rambert, the journalist, seemed very obnoxious and irritating at first, but once he settled in to the town and became friends with the other characters, he became less occupied with himself and realized that there was more going on than just what he was worried about. He gave up his initial goal of getting back to his wife, risked his life, and helped Rieux (a stranger compared to his wife) save a town in which Rambert himself didn't even belong. In the end, this proved to be a rewarding decision for he was reunited with his wife after all.
I thought that the ending was also very well done. Just when you think it's going to have a kind of sappy, sweet ending - there's a little twist. The plague can remain dorment and come back completely unexpected. All those people in that town have been through all of this already. Now they are all thrilled that the plague has left because they have no idea that it could one day return. Just as quick as the plague came, it went, and just as quickly it could return.
I think that the repeating and dragging on of description definatlely makes a reader wish it would end rather than find out what happens next. However, the main story as well as the details given about the characters makes one want to continue reading. One will not be disappointed either, because the ending of the story is also one of the best parts.