Amanda's Reviews > Under the Dome

Under the Dome by Stephen King
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Jul 03, 13

really liked it
bookshelves: blog
Read in January, 2010 — I own a copy

More like 3 1/2 stars. This is my first full-fledged Stephen King novel, so I'm not sure how it measures up against other King classics like The Stand, It, Salem's Lot, or Carrie. Sure, I've read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, but only because it was described as a young adult novel (King-lite, if you will). I have spent most of my life actively avoiding Stephen King and here's my story as to why Mr. King and I parted ways before I even read anything by him.

When I was but a wee little girl, full of innocence and a precocious love of reading, my mom was also a voracious reader. As I was consuming Little House on the Prairie books (my earliest encounter with book rape--thanks, grandma) and Nancy Drew, I began noticing that mom was always reading these big ass books with KING running down the spine. When she wasn't reading these books, they were always placed on top of the refrigerator which was well out of my grasp. Eager for us to share this love of reading (Mom curiously had no interest in the plight of the Ingalls family), I begged and pleaded to be allowed to read the King books. "Gee, wouldn't it be fun if Mom and I read the same books? Then we could talk about them!" I thought. Days, weeks, months went by and, eventually, my constant wheedling became too much. She relented, but the deal was that she would pick the scene I was allowed to read. She chose a particularly horrific and descriptive scene from The Stand. I read with increasing horror--Nancy Drew never encountered messed up shit like this! When I finished that scene, I handed the book over and never asked to read King again. And I stepped lightly around Mom from that day forward. I suddenly understood that, if that woman snapped, it would be ugly--and she would know what to do with the bodies.

Therefore, unlike most teenagers, I skipped over the desire to consume everything King between junior high and high school. And this brings us to present day and my first King novel. At 1,072 pages, this is definitely a doorstop of a book. However, it reads fairly quickly. My main complaint is that many of the characters are one dimensional stereotypes. There are no shades of gray in the small town of Chester's Mill. At first, this bothered me; however, I think maybe individual characters had to be sacrificed in order to portray the real character--small town America and how it reacts to cataclysmic events. If King shorthands individual characterizations, he nails the panic and herd-like mentality that takes over when uncertainty is the order of the day.

The premise of the novel, as blatantly presented by the title, is that Chester's Mill one day finds itself cutoff from the outside world by a mysterious dome that perfectly conforms itself to the borders of Chester's Mill. In the days ahead, the people wait and worry as the United States government desperately tries to free them. As hope begins to dwindle, reason is in short supply as people trade in their humanity for mass hysteria and panic.

The dome is not, however, the ultimate villain in this tale. The real villain is Big Jim Rennie, the town selectman who has been waiting for just such a "clustermug" so that he can claim control of the town. Big Jim is the most vile type of Christian, one who believes that being able to quote scripture and abstain from saying cuss words is all it takes to be amongst God's chosen. Big Jim does everything in the belief that God is on his side and damn anyone who tries to get in his way, for not only are they his enemies, but enemies of Christianity itself. It is possible to have religion without true faith, and Big Jim is proof of that. He has customized his religion to serve his needs; indeed, his belief in God is little more than a manifestation of his own belief in himself as superior, as "chosen," to be above all others.

It appears that my review may be destined to be as long as the book, so I'll cut it short. Weaknesses: there are a few clunker sentences that pulled me out of the story, there is an abundance of detail that I could have lived without, and I was disappointed in the reason for the dome because it seemed so obvious. Strengths: King deftly keeps his cast of characters straight and realistically interacting with one another, he captures the terror and bovine-like stupidity that takes over when day-to-day life is disrupted and threatened, there are some colorful cuss words that I hope to employ in the near future, and there's a catastrophic scene toward the end that is one of the most terrifying and well-written that I've ever read.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
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Reading Progress

12/26/2009 page 1
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01/15/2010 page 808
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 66) (66 new)


Kemper I'm waiting to see my first Big Jim for President bumper sticker....


Amanda That would be a "clustermug" for sure!


Kemper Great review. I don't think I've ever met someone with similar tastes that hadn't read at least a couple of King novels. You could be the 'control' for the experiment when science decides to study the lasting effects of King novels on the human psyche.


Amanda They better get on that study right quick and in a hurry then because I may have to tie on another King in the near future. I was just so traumatized over that experience from my formative years (I was a very sheltered 8-9 year old when that happened; momma messed me up good, but I was a better behaved child as a result) that I never went back and read him later. I really enjoyed this book, though, and I'd like to read one of his more horrific supernatural ones sometime soon.


Kemper Which one are you thinking about taking on?


Amanda I don't know. I thought about Salem's Lot or The Stand (just to see if it's as terrifying to me now as it was then). Any suggestions?


Kemper The Stand is my all-time King fave, but I'm also a big fan of 'Salem's Lot, The Dead Zone or The Shining. (And I think The Dark Half gets severely underrated.) Any of those should be able to traumatize you quite nicely.


message 8: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent I was just going to say the same thing about The Dark Half. Salem's Lot would be my top pick, though, followed by the Stand.


Amanda I may have to commit my spring break reading to The Stand and Salem's Lot, back to back. I need Salem's Lot just to restore my faith in the vampire genre. I'll also have to check out The Dark Half--that's one I haven't heard of, but the Goodreads description sounds intriguing.


message 10: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike "The Shining" and "It" get my votes as the best King novels.


Brian I might be one of about four people who liked it, but I really thought Needful Things was quite strong. If you like watching people react on "gut feeling" without actually understanding the forces directing/motivating them, it's a winner. Honestly, the antagonist is my personal prototype for a devil.


Rachel This review is hysterical.


message 13: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason I think you might like Eyes of the Dragon because it's a King fairy tale... Christine is also one of the best books ever written about being a confused teen... I'm surprised no one has mentioned Misery... one of his best!!


message 14: by Liz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liz You NAILED it. For a first time King reader, you need not say more. Most people just read for the gore. You got right to the really important part. I think the King himself would be proud of that review. Enjoyed your post. Thanks.


Natalie Amanda, where you write about King on top of the refrigerator, you are telling a terrific story yourself! Bravo.

"When she wasn't reading these books, they were always placed on top of the refrigerator which was well out of my grasp. Eager for us to share this love of reading (Mom had no interest in the plight of the Ingalls family), I begged and pleaded to be allowed to read the King books. "Gee, wouldn't it be fun if Mom and I read the same books? Then we could talk about them!" I thought. Days, weeks, months went by and, eventually, my constant wheedling became too much. She relented, but the deal was that she would pick the scene I was allowed to read. She chose a particularly horrific and descriptive scene from The Stand. I read with increasing horror--Nancy Drew never encountered messed up shit like this!"


Stephanie Amanda, I could not agree more with your review of this novel. As a long-time King reader, I understand your trepidation in reading his works.. but don't worry. The only trauma you will receive is with It, and only if you are afraid of clowns. I vote for Misery, that is one messed-up woman. Of course, the Stand.. if you can handle it. I have heard that the Gunslinger series is a very good one, but I have yet to sink my teeth into it..
I see you love Red Dwarf. How do you feel about Dr. Who? I think you're keen... and NO, I'm not picking you up. lol :D


Amanda Stephanie wrote: "Amanda, I could not agree more with your review of this novel. As a long-time King reader, I understand your trepidation in reading his works.. but don't worry. The only trauma you will receive i..."

I have yet to try another King, mainly because there are so many other books on my shelves that need to be read! However, I'm thinking about tackling The Gunslinger series this summer as I've heard they're developing it for a movie and I want to be sure to read it before the film comes out. I may also try Misery--I loved the film version and I can only imagine that the novel is even better.

Strangely, given my love of British television, I haven't watched Dr. Who since the Tom Baker years. I think I would enjoy it, but I'm daunted by trying to pick up on the storylines in a series that has such an extensive history. When they changed from David Tennant to Matt Smith, did they begin with a fresh storyline?


Stephanie oh wow... fresh story line? well, new Doctor, new companion, and seemingly all new villains... But yes, I think they have changed quite a bit, since nearly all, or possibly all the writers left when DT did. I got started in the middle of his reign, and backtracked to the Doctor before.. Christopher Eccleston? he's good as well. But you see, I've developed a slight crush on David, so my being fair at ALL may not be possible... LOL
Matt Smith is a totally different doctor, love him or leave him. the whole series has been revamped for a younger audience, even though it was DT that made the show so very IN and popular, once again. I wanted to hate it, and the very LARGE forehead that kid has, but I have to say, it's an intriguing series, action-packed, and all new places to go, things to see. The new companion? HAWT ginger, gorgeous eyes, and amazingly mesmerizing.
I'm kind of a BIG fan, now... lol. Also, I watch all kinds of shows on BBC America now, as well as PBS. GO, Red Green!! :D
The Misery storyline is So Much Better.. in depth, in every way possible. Though I cannot imagine a better pairing than the 2 who made that movie!


Stephanie p.s., any more King novels have to wait until I've read the Laurie R. King "Mary Russel" series... an Xmas preset to myself, from Amazon.com, for a penny a piece! lol


Kemper Amanda wrote:

My two cents on Dr. Who: Picking up on the Matt Smith era is a great place to start if you don't want to go through all the Christopher E./ David Tennent versions first.

I was all backasswords and started with Torchwood, then went back to the David T. episodes to get that backstory, and finally filled in the Christopher E. season. (And I never saw much of the old school DW.)

I didn't think anyone could top the David Tennent version, but I absolutely love what the new crew and Matt Smith are doing. Plus, he's coming to America this season.


Stephanie Oh believe me, Kemper, we are waiting impatiently for that season to air!!
And yes, Torchwood is another very, very good series to watch, if you need something else British.. Captain Jack & crew are quite the find. Can't wait for the new shows there, as well!!


Amanda I've already gone and added the Matt Smith season to my Netflix queue. Is it necessary to watch Dr. Who to watch Torchwood? That ones been in my queue for a while now because I wasn't sure if I could just step in and pick up on it.

Lately, my British tv consumption has consisted of season 4 of The IT Crowd, A Little Bit of Frye and Laurie (cannot believe he ever became House--it's like watching a totally different person), and the British Top Gear.


message 23: by Kemper (last edited Jan 20, 2011 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper I'm a bad example because I'd only seen a couple of DW's and Torchwood when the wife and I watched Torchwood: Children of Earth (essentially Torchwood's third season). We were able to keep up and then went back through Torchwood's first two seasons and started in on the DW while we were doing that. We got a little lost at times, but managed to figure it all out eventually but we did spoiler ourselves now and then. If you do Torchwood and need a quick summary wihout spoilers, shoot me a message.


Brandon Awesome review! Love your comments on the ending.


message 25: by Hil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hil I really enjoyed reading your review, especially the first bit that's irrelevent to the book but a great story!


Amanda Hil wrote: "I really enjoyed reading your review, especially the first bit that's irrelevent to the book but a great story!"

I'm glad you enjoyed it--I just had to share. In my humble opinion, that story's too great not to tell!


message 27: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Hagood Since your review is as long as novel maybe you should write your own book and then we can critique you and ask why is yours so long


Kemper Gary wrote: "Since your review is as long as novel maybe you should write your own book and then we can critique you and ask why is yours so long"

Or maybe you should learn how to count since six paragraphs hardly equals 1000+ pages...

Are you seriously trying to play the Write-Your-Own-Book card on a 4 star review? I'd hate to see how upset you'd get at someone who didn't like it....


Nandakishore Varma The one King novel that scared the shit out of me is The Shining: especially the topiary scenes, and the fire hose in the corridor which is really not a fire hose...

I suggest you try it, Amanda. It is fairly thin for a King novel, and more effective than the later ones. IMO, King has been losing his touch of late.


Amanda Gary wrote: "Since your review is as long as novel maybe you should write your own book and then we can critique you and ask why is yours so long"

Oh, Gary, Gary, Gary. I find it peculiar that, despite the fact that I never cited the length of the book as a weakness and, in fact, enjoyed the novel, you decided to stop by and slam my review as though you're King's rabid guard dog. People who write books expect to be critiqued and we as an audience have the right to express what we like and what we don't like--after all, writers like Mr. King are handsomely compensated for it. Why, he would probably be plumb tickled to get such a review. So scurry off and write your own review (after all, it is your right) and generously praise the length of the novel--how every noun, verb, and adjective were a gift from the literary gods and we should drop to our knees and give praise that King has seen fit to allow us to bask in the light of his loquaciousness. And maybe some ass hat will drop by and leave a nonsensical comment on it that will have you scratching your head and wondering as to how, precisely, you have given offense.

In the meantime, I would like to politely invite you to go sell crazy some place else--we're all stocked up here.


Amanda Nandakishore wrote: "The one King novel that scared the shit out of me is The Shining: especially the topiary scenes, and the fire hose in the corridor which is really not a fire hose...

I suggest you try it, Amanda..."


Thanks for the suggestion! I've had many people recommend The Shining to me as well. There are just so many King novels that I hope I'm able to eventually get to all of them.


Stephanie "go sell crazy some place else"

I give this comment 4 stars.


Amanda Stephanie wrote: ""go sell crazy some place else"

I give this comment 4 stars."


Thanks--I borrowed that from Jack Nicholson via As Good As It Gets. A movie which I give 4 stars. Well worth a looksee if you haven't seen it.


Stephanie I haven't but I will check it out.


message 35: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Hagood Have no idea what your point. Maybe you should get a life and quit worrying about what I think. I am wondering how your ass hat fits your head, a good fit I`m sure. Carry on.


Stephanie Wow.


message 37: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Hagood Sorry, that is back at Amanda`s comment to me.


message 38: by Carol. (new)

Carol. Amanda, your mom has a sick sense of humor, but clearly she was only protecting you--and perhaps herself, from having to discuss Stephen King. I was traumatized by reading Stephen King 1: Pet Semetary / Carrie / Nightshift when I was in my early teens.

Gary, you brought the storm on yourself by leaving a drive-by criticism that had little to do with the book and more to do with Amanda and her review. Might I suggest another website? http://www.angermgmt.com/


Stephanie Carol wrote: "Amanda, your mom has a sick sense of humor, but clearly she was only protecting you--and perhaps herself, from having to discuss Stephen King. I was traumatized by reading [book:Stephen King 1: Pet..."

HA!


message 40: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Hagood Carol, I have a suggestion for you but you probably wouldn`t like it.


Amanda Gary wrote: "Have no idea what your point. Maybe you should get a life and quit worrying about what I think. I am wondering how your ass hat fits your head, a good fit I`m sure. Carry on."

That's pretty much the point--that I don't care what you think. You're the one who stopped by here, not the other way around.


message 42: by Mary (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mary I laughed out loud reading your review of your mom. Hahah she knows where to hide the bodies. LOL. I feel sad that this is the first King book you read because it wasn't a good one. Try again. "Cell" was short and sweet and not bad if you want to test the waters again. Good luck!


Nikki The Shining is my all time favorite King novel. Scared the shit out of me in the way that only books can. The Dark Half was also good and Rose Madder is high on my list and probably underrated.


Amanda Nikki wrote: "The Shining is my all time favorite King novel. Scared the shit out of me in the way that only books can. The Dark Half was also good and Rose Madder is high on my list and probably underrated."

I'll have to add those to the "to read" list. I've heard many a King fan say Rose Madder is a forgotten gem among the better known titles.


Trudi haha! Great review Amanda :) Have you read any other King since? I'm going to peek at your shelves and see, but thought I'd ask first.

That's too funny about your mom. I had the exact same experience with mine and with the same motivation begged to read what kept her so captivated. My first King book was Pet Sematary. I was eleven years old. It's been a lifelong love affair since. I too, know where to hide the bodies. You know, in case you ever need a hand in disposal. Just saying ;)


Amanda Trudi wrote: "haha! Great review Amanda :) Have you read any other King since? I'm going to peek at your shelves and see, but thought I'd ask first.

That's too funny about your mom. I had the exact same experie..."


Sadly, no, I haven't gotten around to reading any of King's other works. I'm a notorious book whore--I can't stick with the same author or genre long enough to even feign the possibility of a long-term relationship. However, he was a good time, so maybe I'll work my way back to him. Someday.


Trudi Amanda wrote: "I'm a notorious book whore..."

Ha! better not start the DT series any time soon then, that's takes some serious monogamous commitment :) My recommendation isn't one of King's big boys, but a lesser known early book called The Long Walk. I push this little gem every chance I get, a perfect selection for book whores everywhere ;)


Amanda Trudi wrote: "Ha! better not start the DT series any time soon then, that's takes some serious monogamous commitment :) My recommendation isn't one of King's big bo..."

Several people have recommended The Long Walk to me as one of his most underappreciated works, so I may have to check that out. The premise is very intriguing and it fits my preference for novels that are complete in and of themselves.

I actually bought The Gunslinger this summer, but then commitment phobia set in and before I knew it I was having several one-night-standalone novel dalliances.


Tanya I'm a long time King reader, who got her love of him from her mother and only just now got around to reading Under The Dome (I had kids and now have no time to read). I've been audiobooking this one every spare second and now that's its finished its been so interesting reading everyone's reviews. I'd say my opinion on it lies almost exactly in line with yours.
I just had to comment that if you still haven't tried it you truly must read "The Long Walk" my absolute favourite story of King's and well worth the read.


Amanda Tanya wrote: "I'm a long time King reader, who got her love of him from her mother and only just now got around to reading Under The Dome (I had kids and now have no time to read). I've been audiobooking this on..."

Thanks for the comment! I still haven't read The Long Walk, mainly because I'm working my way through The Dark Tower series (I'm about to start the 3rd one). But your recommendation is a reminder that I really need to bump The Long Walk way up on my list!


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