Under the Dome

In Book Reviews on October 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm
Under the Dome

Hodder & Stoughton 2009

Whoa. 877 pages, people. 877.

Before I share with you my thoughts on this book, I want to take a moment to explain to you my relationship with Stephen King.

I was a big fan of his back when I was a teenager. He writes the kind of books my parents would hate. The only books they ever told me that I couldn’t read when I was that age were romance books, but I think that if they had ever read a Stephen King novel they would have taken them right away from me. That made me like the books even more. (Yes, I was a horrible teenager. Who wasn’t?)

Anyway, they fulfilled my childish need for rebellion. There’s a scene in IT where some kids try to light their farts and I remember thinking ‘People write about this stuff in books?’. *Snicker, snort* The stories were good too, but I liked that Mr. King told it like it was.

Once I left my teenage years behind, I stopped reading his books. It wasn’t any kind of conscious decision. I just read other stuff. And then last year I decided that I needed to get back to reading some of his work and I picked up the first book of the Dark Tower series. I was dismayed to find that I didn’t like it at all. I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t connect with the characters. That’s when I had my big revelation.

I’ve outgrown Stephen King.

So, I read a review of Under the Dome from one of the blogs I’m following and for the life of me I can’t remember which one of you it is because it was a while ago. I remember that the person who wrote the post did an embroidery of a quote from the book which said “God bless you, but I don’t give a shit”. (Please identify yourself so that I can give you some credit.) Anyway, it made me rethink my stance on his work. I decided to read the book based on her review.

To my intense delight I found out that I haven’t outgrown Stephen King at all! So forgive me, Mr. King. Forgive me for doubting your literary prowess and writing it off as fodder for my teenage rebellion.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can move on with what I thought of the book.

Nutshell blurb: A mysterious dome has descended around the town of Chester’s Mill cutting the people inside off from the people outside. No one knows how it came to be there or how to make it go away. The story follows the inhabitants of this dome and how they cope with being isolated.

Boy, what a cast. I think that one of the things that makes Stephen King’s books so scary is that his characters are so real. Characterisation is certainly the most important aspect to me when reading a book. I’ve just put down a different book (that shall not be named) because the characters didn’t spark my interest at all. Mr. King’s characters could easily be friends, family, neighbours, you or me and what’s terrifying is when he puts those ordinary people into hair-raising situations and lets them stew. Or die. Horribly.

It was kind of good that this book was so long because I needed periodic breaks from it. It is packed with action from page 1 to page 877 and it left me breathless at times. One would think that a book that long would have lulls in it but one would be oh so very wrong. It just never stopped. And I loved that.

The dialogue in his books is also always amazing and makes me giggle a bit. It’s colourful, brutal and sometimes quaint. I think that this passage is my favourite:

They were coming up on the hospital now. Stewart saw a gray Ford Taurus pulling out of Catherine Russell.

‘Hey, that’s Dr Rusty,’ Fern said. ‘Bet he’ll be glad to get this stuff. Give im a toot, Stewie.’

Stewart gave im a toot.

In between reading sessions, I was thinking about his other books that I’ve read. (Needful Things is one of my favourites.) None of his characters are alike, that I know of, anyway. I don’t feel like I recognise them from his other books. I’m blown away by the sheer volume of ideas the man has. I know that I’m gushing. I can’t help it. He’s the master.

My one complaint (and it’s a niggling one) is that he used a character from a different author ‘off-screen’ in the story. I’m not a big fan of that. In this book, one of the police officers was once in the army and reported to Jack Reacher. I don’t mind references to characters, songs, films or whatever. I just don’t like it when a character from a different, unrelated story is represented as a character in a book. It’s a personal preference, but it kind of feels like cheating. If it had been by a newly published author, I would have really thought about whether or not I wanted to press on with the story. At the very least there would have been some heavy eye-rolling. But it’s Stephen King so I guess he can get away with it.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to have my dispensation.

Anyway, if you can’t tell from my gushing, I loved this book. It made me gasp out loud several times on the train, which is always the sign of a good book. I’ve actually just finished it and now I feel drained. Also the sign of a good book.

It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

  1. It’s a behemoth, but I think I’ll read it some day. I just remember this book I want to read, it’s been made into a movie recently, but was published in 1963, The Wall by Marlen Haushofer. It might be more literary than you like, but the trailer makes me think you may like it. Or, perhaps the trailer misrepresents the book, once again. A woman is vacationing in the Austrian Alps with her dog when everyone else in the world disappears, and she’s seperated from the rest of the world by an invisible barrier. She begins journaling so as to keep her sanity, and the reviews are pretty torn… I’m gonna try and read it in German soon. Here’s a link:

    • Oh excellent, I’ve added it to my tbr list. Thanks for the recommendation!

      The trailer looks really good. I’ll have to watch it once I’ve read the book. I just watched the trailer for the Under the Dome tv show and was a bit underwhelmed. I think that I won’t watch that. There’s no way that it can compete with or compare to the book.

  2. I haven’t read “Under the Dome” yet but plan to in the near future – I just finished 11/22/63 earlier this summer and decided I needed a break before diving into another long King novel!

    Have you watched the TV show version of Under the Dome yet? I saw the first few episodes and then got away from it. I want to get caught up on the show, but I’m not sure I should watch it if I still want to read the book!

    • I definitely want to read 11/22/63 now, but I’ll give it a while. Like you, I need a bit of a break.

      I haven’t watched the tv show and after reading the book, I don’t think that I will. I just can’t imagine it standing up to the book and that would be disappointing. I watched the trailer and already I could see things that didn’t match up with the book. I would sit there and mutter “That’s not how it happened in the book”. Did you enjoy the episodes you saw?

      • I did enjoy the first episode or two and I have to admit I’m interested to see what direction they take the show – I’m curious how they will make a book into an entire series.
        But then again, maybe I should stick with the book – the book is always better!

      • There’s so much that goes on in the book, I’m sure that it could easily be made into a series. I don’t think that it could stay true to the book, though, because there is some disturbing stuff in there. For me, it’s the kind of stuff that I can read about but wouldn’t want to watch. They’ll probably sanitise the heck out of it for tv. Not that that’s a bad thing. I guess I would have to watch and episode to see what I thought. But then if I hated it, I wouldn’t be able to ‘unsee’ it.

  3. 1074 pages. I read it too

  4. Congrats on getting through it! I think my personal King fave is Duma Key. Also started reading him while I was a teen, but I never really broke the habit.

    • Thanks! It felt like quite an accomplishment. I can work on chipping away at the stack of books next to my bed now. I’ll definitely have to catch up on his work. Old and new. There were some classics of his that I’ve not read such as The Shining. I’ll have to read that now that his new book is out. My tbr list just expanded.

  5. Don’t judge Stephen King by the “Dark Tower” series – I’ve read everything he has ever written (yes, I’m pretty old), loved some more than others – but couldn’t get into the Dark Tower at all. His best, I think – “The Shining,” and “The Stand.”
    I’m now rereading “Under the Dome” (on tape) to see how it deviates from the TV show, which I like very much.

    • Yes, I really liked his older stuff. It was just disappointing that The Gunslinger was the first novel of his that I’d read in 15 years or so since I read anything of his. I’ll be reading much more of this work now that I’ve read Under the Dome.

  6. Congratulations on getting through it!

    I noticed you were reading it a while ago because it was at about the same time that the TV series of the book came on British TV and I’d started watching it and found it disappointingly flat. I didn’t think that was very likely to be because the story was of poor quality and from your review I was right. I think I’m going to have to ignore the TV series and read the book after all. Just the conclusion I wanted 🙂

    • Thanks! It was worth the effort.

      I definitely recommend reading the book first. I’m always disappointed when I watch a film/tv show without reading the book first. Even if both are good. Let me know what you think if you do read it. I’d be interested to know what your opinion is.

      • Hopefully I’ll get round to it soon, there’s so much Stephen King I haven’t read but I want to. I have definitely given up on the TV series though.

  7. I read this a while ago and found it a bit of a letdown. The ending was utter guff.

    11/22/63 is great though.

    • That’s interesting. I didn’t have a problem with the ending. I could see where it might be considered to be unsatisfying and maybe even a little bit hokey. For me, though, the characters are the best part of any story. Get them right and I can over-look some of the other stuff that might not pass muster for others.

      Thanks for letting me know what you think!

  8. I didn’t like The Gunslinger on first read-through either, and I hear that’s a common experience. I’m gonna give it another go since I was drawn back into that world by the Marvel series…..

    • Interesting. I don’t think that I’ve ever tried to read again something that I didn’t like the first time. Have you had much success with that? My experience with The Gunslinger was that I didn’t connect with any of the characters. I’m not sure that will improve with a second try. Let me know how you get on. I would be interested to hear if you like it after a second try.

  9. Hi Buffy, is there a way to be getting your post on my mail. Sometimes the only way I got it is if I am on my dashboard. But like I said you are an awesome writer. Thank you for visiting my blog.

    • You can sign up for email alerts. I think it’s at the bottom of the page. Thank you so much for reading my blog! I really enjoy reading yours too. Your kindness really shines through! I like your style. 🙂

      • I couldn’t read the Dark tower – but when I stumbled in the audio of the second “drawing of the three” read by frank muller- I joined the quest for the tower – awesome !
        Worth another try – full of characters from the other books you have read – classic.

        UTtD – great characters , lost ending. Reminded me of the 80s flick ‘explorers’ rotten.

      • Hmmm, I’m not sure that I’m convinced. Once I’m put off by a book it takes a lot to make me want to pick up the next one. We have them all in the house as the hubs really likes them. Maybe one day I’ll give them another try. There are just so many other books in the world to read that I don’t like dragging myself through something in an attempt to get to the good parts.

        I think I’m a bit more forgiving when it comes to endings than you are. I did think it was a bit strange, but it was fine for me. 🙂

      • Yeh, not for everybody i s’pose. My missus finally picked them up after i harassed her for years- but even she threw them after three books of “sci fi nonsense” so what about his earlier stuff then? Bachman- long walk, rage ? Tried them ? Very good stuff.

      • I’m currently working through his earlier stuff. I read quite a few as a teenager but now that I’m older I’ve realised how many I’ve missed. Next one up is The Shining.

      • Oh yeh – then Dr sleep must be on the shopping list!

        Talking of the shining, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest is probably one of my faves – jack Nicholson character stuck with me throughout both books.

      • ‘Tis indeed! I read One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest ages ago. Loved it! And Jack Nicholson is a legend! 🙂

  10. […] read Under the Dome by Stephen King and I can’t help but wonder if he ever read this book before writing his. […]

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