Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Under the Dome"... into the recycling pile

I admire Stephen King greatly. I have read pretty much all of his novels, with the exception of the later "Dark Tower" books and "Lisey's Story" (which I started, got about ten pages into, and just couldn't continue). I think "The Stand" is one of the best post-apocalyptic stories ever, "'Salem's Lot" one of the best vampire stories ever, and "It" one of the best "weird monster terrorizing kids in the sewer" stories ever. I've really enjoyed the majority of the Stephen King books I've read, including the ones under his pseudonym, "Richard Bachman".

But yesterday I did something with a Stephen King novel that I'd never done before -- I skimmed it.

I'm referring to the huge (almost 1100 pages) new novel "Under the Dome", which came out a few days ago.

I picked up my copy at the Barnes and Noble in Hadley on Thursday, and eagerly dove into it, setting aside "David Copperfield", which I had just started reading (I'm on a bit of a Charles Dickens kick).

About thirty pages into the book, I started to feel uneasy. No, it wasn't because there was anything particularly scary or creepy in the story (something you very often run into with King's tales, and that's a good thing). No, the reason was… I was bored. There was a fascinating set-up -- a small town is suddenly and mysteriously covered by an impenetrable dome (actually, it's not REALLY shaped like a dome, regardless of what the cover art depicts, but that's a minor point). But as I read on, I discovered that the cast of characters, especially the bad ones, seemed plucked from other King works.

And from then on, the action became fairly predictable. I was disappointed -- I was looking forward to getting immersed in an interesting exploration of what might happen to the people of a town put into this bizarre predicament. But by this point I had completely lost interest in the book, except for one thing -- I wanted to find out if the dome ever went away. So, with close to a thousand pages left to go, I skimmed all the way to the end, and found out.

Why did I bother skimming, and not just go to the last few pages? Well, as I have almost always had good luck with Stephen King's novels, I thought that MAYBE as I skimmed along I might spot something which would pull me back into the story, and cause me to slow down and start reading normally again -- maybe even go back to where I started skimming and read from there. Alas, it was not to be. -- PL


Joseph said...

Let me guess how it ends...Homer and Bart save the town and everyone forgives them? D'OH!!!!

Tyrgermanic said...

haha oh yeah.the simpsons movie.
thanks for the warning,pl.

david copperfield is a great classic novel,i love classic novels,its cool to see that not everybody sticks to modern ones.

but bad news,theres rumors SIMON PEGG,yes that SIMON PEGG is going to be URIAH HEEP.
i wouldnt believe it,but theres already GARY OLDMAN as TINY TIM..

Summer said...

It does actually seem like a very interesting plot. It's a shame it didn't live up to your expectations.

I recently read a book by Lev Grossman called The Magicians that did the same thing for me, by using too many references from other authors/stories and not living up to its potential.

Poppy Robbie said...

Yeah, I was shocked to see the sheer mass of that book. And I thought The Stand was massive!

Pete, have you read any of the current comic adaptation of The Stand? I've been keeping up with it and have been enjoying it thusfar...I think you'd dig!


MuddPie said...

I read The Dark Tower Series and I loved it! Once you read it you will look at some of his novels a little differently. Keep in mind though that he wrote The Gunslinger early in his career and that the books have progressed with his writing. Whether that is good or bad I'll leave to you. There is a reason a lot of the characters seem familiar from book to book. Rumor is there will be Dark Tower movies soon, so you might think about at least checking them out!