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OPINION | To Read, or Not to Read Stephen King's Under the Dome

Okay, firstly I should say I'm not the biggest King fan.  Not that I don't like his work.  I, like most people have read more than a few Stephen King books over the years.  My first taste was The Eyes of the Dragon, which was King's first and to my knowledge only long form YA effort.  Eyes greatly influenced my early teen reading habits and I probably devoured  it 5 times by the time I was 12 in addition to being one of the first Fantasy books I had to own.  I've also enjoyed The Stand, Tommyknockers, parts of The Dark Tower saga, Pet Cemetery, and It.  There were probably a couple others as well, but these are the ones that come to mind.  However, other than It and Cemetery I haven't read too many of King's more standard Horror fair, as they aren't really my thing.  It particularly screwed with my teenage head a bit much to the point where I still have an aversion to clowns.  So it is safe to say I'm more a fan of his Fantasy/Epic related works more than anything else.

However, in my eyes King has been going downhill for a long time.  Especially, since his Publishers have essentially stopped editing him.  Granted there are parts of The Stand, Uncut Edition that could have been left in the original release, but still some of it should have been trimmed.  Now it is almost verboten to do anything to his text, while most of his books could stand to lose at least a few dozen pages.  The last King book I read was Cell, which had a nice zombie-ish plot about the foibles of technology engraining itself in humanity and how it could turn itself on us.  Sounds decent right?  It was at first, but the cop out ending totally ruined it.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who enjoyed Cell so I'm not looking for flaming comments about how wrong I am.  This is just how I view it.  Since Cell I've vowed to stay far away from any new King novel, although I've re-read some of his older work and he is still pretty good with short stories.  Now comes Under the Dome, which King has been working on and off for a couple decades in some form.  Here is the description:
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away. Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.
Sounds pretty great to me.  From what little I've read Under the Dome could be his best Epic since The Stand.  It is also his third longest book ever following The Stand and It.  And as my readers know I like my books like I like my burgers: big and fat.  Also, the cover is wonderful and a departure from all King's past covers.  Here is the wrap around which shows a lot of interesting detail.



Dan Simmons also had some very nice things to say about Under the Dome last year:
What’s amazing to me is that Under the Dome is the kind of huge, generous, sprawling, infinitely energetic novel that we (or at least I) associate with gifted young novelists in their 20’s—all energy and enthusiasm, the young author having not yet learned a long-distance novelist’s greedy trick of holding back characters or plot or techniques for future novels—and yet here with a master’s total control of the telling, myriad of characters, tone, and effects.
I take this as a huge vote of confidence as Simmons is one of modern masters of Epics.  So do you think I should give Under the Dome a shot?  Will you be reading it?

11 comments:

Ole A. Imsen said...

I'll be reading Under The Dome, and have already pre-ordered it.

I think you should give it a try too. Especially since I think King was back to old form with his latest novel Duma Key, maybe you should try that too.

Maarten said...

I prefeered King's "non horror" books like The Green Mile, The Stand and Misery. I tried The Dark Towers but found them boring.
I will read Under the Dome because of Dan Simmons'comment. His Hyperion is one of my favorite SCI FI books. Under The Dome should be available in Italy by the end og november.

Ciao,

maarten.bouwman(at)ets.eni.it

(you could send me yr copy when you've finished).

The Mad Hatter said...

I keep getting more and more tempted to give it a chance.

Scott said...

I'll probably read it. I'm usually not a big fan of reading a book that is a thousand pages long because I don't have that much free time since I have a three year old but the premise sounds cool. And I agree with you about Cell I thought the beginning of the book was so damn cool but by the end it really started to drag.


Mad Hatter,

Have you ever read The Shining? That is Kings best book in my opinion. Salem's Lot is cool too.

The Mad Hatter said...

@Scott I haven't read Salem's Lot, but I try The Shining. It is definitely one of Kings better ones.

Alec said...

Yea, no doubt it will be on my list. If Simmon's says yes, then I am game.

jonathandanz said...

I hope to read it. I stopped reading King after The Tommyknockers. After reading On Writing a few times, I think I'm inspired to pick him up again.

Kendall said...

I've never read anything by Stephen King, though like almost everyone, I've seen a few movies and miniseries based on his work. This is the first of his novels that interested me. (I'm not into horror, so most of his stuff doesn't interest me.)

Jared said...

I think so - this looks like the first decent book he'll have produced in a (long) while. Fingers crossed!

The Mad Hatter said...

I took the plunge and ordered Under the Dome. The Amazon/Walmart's price war was too good an offer to pass up. If you preorder Under the Dome at either you can get it for $9. Which is amazing for a $35 hardcover.

Kendall said...

MH: I took the plunge, too. I had it in my cart at $11; it went down to $10 and I was like "Huh?" then it went down to $9 and I was like "holy crap, time to order before it goes up!"

Something else in my cart at the same time went up $1.50, so overall my order was 50 cents lower than originally. ;-) Wacky.