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Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King

This review was originally posted over at Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF on the 11th of November 2009.

It’s officially Dome Day! And here’s the review I (enthusiastically) posted last month. 🙂

So I’m finally done, and I feel kind of drained. I’m not relieved -to the contrary, I wish it could have gone on longer- but I am glad that I’ve finished Under the Dome. This is a book I’ll be celebrating as long as books and storytelling exist, a book that I’ll always be happy to talk about.

I received (was very lucky, being one of 6 readers in South Africa) the 187th proof copy of Under the Dome from a very cool lady who runs this blog after I had found her on Twitter and sent an @ her way – Twitter is so damn awesome! 🙂 And when I had the copy in my hands (it came with a plastic enclosing-sleeve, even), I was trembling. And this was after waiting 3 years for the book. And back when I heard about it, I never once thought that I would be lucky enough to be given a chance to read it before publication! But I did, and let me tell you, it was definitely worth the 25-year wait (that’s how long the King took to write the book)!

I dare every one of you out there, be you a fan of Stephen King or not, to read the first chapter of Under the Dome when it’s released. I dare you. Because I tell you what, you wont want to put it down. You might, I allow, but with just the first section (focusing on a plane and a little bird) Stephen hooks the reader and pulls, pulls until you tumble all the way in. The Dome literally closes around you, and if I could paraphrase Ray Bradbury’s opening line of Fahrenheit 451 I would, but I don’t want to, yet I think you understand what I’m getting at. Being pulled in was at once terrifying and exhilarating.

Getting further into the book, Stephen starts to showcase that amazing eye for characterization he is known for – the back of the proof states that Under the Dome features “more than 100 characters” and that’s no lie, trust me. The main character-group (those who get the most POVs) are headed by Dale Barbara on one side and Jim Rennie on the other, but there are so many other characters (including an awesome Corgi that had me wiping away tears at the end) representing so many different and conflicting points on view (conflicting, yes, but doesn’t everyone’s POV come into conflict with someone else’s?) that you not only are immersed in their lives, hearts and heads, but that the town of Chester’s Mills comes so vibrantly alive with them that so can actually convince yourself that you can see these places and people without any apparent effort. Match Stephen’s amazing characters to his incredible ability to build worlds, and it takes the breath away. You will hate some the people you will meet; you will love some, too. Many will surprise you, even with how deep they fall or rise, and all of them will speak to something within you. What are characters in novels, when it comes down to it? They are all echoes and explorations of what we could be, if the world was a bit different, and Stephen understands this. I’ve got those I love and those I hate fixed firmly in my mind’s eye, and once you’ve read the book, you’ll agree that some are very welcome, and some not so much.

Something that also kicks the book into high gear from page 1 is the structure of it; I’m sure you all know that Stephen King doesn’t really use chapters – instead, he breaks the narrative up into myriad sections, with each section consisting of around 20 parts, sometimes more or less, (sounds like such a terrible word to use but I can’t think of anything else at the moment) and he does the same here. But the thing that leapt out at me as soon as I hit the second section-chunk was that he was drawing our attention to a specific scene or event or character in that section, and once I understood that I had to check myself to avoid racing through the book; it really served to ramp up the pace, which each section delivering a gut-punch, repeated all the way to the end, until the final, incredible climax. Now, I’m sure that there’ll be an opinion different to mine on the climax of Under the Dome (and I welcome it), but just remember one thing; Stephen has been doing this for a long time now, and he is the master at it. :-), but all I can say is I loved it, it was fitting and incredible, it’s still sinking in.

Under the Dome is, in all ways, an incredible novel, and Stephen an incredible storyteller (anyone who calls him a novelist should be smacked upside the head), and Under the Dome is another rampaging super bestseller, no doubt about it, but it’s also a book that you’ll want to re-read and re-live more than once; Stephen has a way of layering his work, a way of raising and lowering the blinds that’ll have you once again settling that book in front of you and being terrified to death and back. There was for me a moment set in a pantry that creeped me the hell out but hand me laughing myself sore, too; the only guy I know who can do that is the King, and the wonderful pleasure of books would never have been the same without him and his work!

I give this book a very strong, fist-pumping-in-the-air 9 /10; you’ll enjoy being under the Dome, no doubt about it!

To check out the amazing cover in all its HD glory, click here!

I will also soon be posting an awesome Dome-related treasure-hunt (wish I could say it was my idea) soon, so keep an eye out for that. 🙂

To pre-order your copies, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and for those in SA, please use this link. 🙂

The official Under the Dome website is also up and running, and click here to go to Stephen King’s official site

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2010 in Reviews

 

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Catch-Up (‘Cause I’ve been quiet for a bit)

So I took a bit of a break from the blog to finish watching the second season of Supernatural. 🙂 We finished it last night, and will probably start watching the 3rd season today, and I have to say that I’m impressed. I knew Sam was going to die and that Dean would do a deal at the crossroads to bring him back, but I didn’t know that their dad would put in an appearance! That was a goose-flesh moment if there ever was one! Very cool! And now that the Yellow-Eyed demon is dead it’ll be interesting to see what the brothers have got to face in the 3rd season, though with all the demons that were released (an awesome moment that took me back to Smallville and the release of the Phantoms from the Phantom Zone) I’m sure they’ll have their work cut out for them. 🙂

We also watched the movie-adaptation of Jose Saramago’s Blindness on the weekend… The only thing that spoiled an otherwise excellent movie was the motivation of Julianne Moore’s character – being the only person who can see among hundreds who can’t, she decides that she’ll let herself (and the women who joined her) be subjected to rape for food. Huh?! Maybe someone can explain this to me, but putting myself in that position just wouldn’t be something I would want to do. You have such a huge advantage over everyone else, and you still want to go ahead and punish yourself like that? For what? Anyway. The rest of the movie was great, and I will recommend it, but I will also be reading the book at some time. 🙂

I am now about 400 pages into Stephen King’s Under the Dome, and it’s incredible so far! 🙂 The King is definitely pulling out all the stops here, and I’ve been getting that same epic-vibe from Dome that I got from The Stand, even though The Stand was a cross-country kind of novel and Dome is set in one town. The characters are amazing, the events awesome (and terrifying), and it’s really shaping up to be a shit-your-pants ride. 🙂

On to the Wheel of Time – I’m really digging the titles for Book 13 and 14! 🙂 Towers of Midnight is such an awesome penultimate-book-in-the-series title, don’t you think? I totally agree with those that have covered it so far that we might see a resolution to the Seanchan plot, though when you think about the outrigger novels that RJ had planned, maybe not. 🙂 But at least we can hope for Tuon and Rand to finally meet and cement the Seanchan as allies of Rand in The Last Battle. And the last book – A Memory of Light. Wonderful! 🙂 Thanks TOR, Harriet, Brandon! 🙂

Now for a blogger-birthday: I completely missed Mark Chitty’s BDay! (Sorry Mark!) I hope you had an incredible day, got plenty of awesome books to read, and will have another incredible year! 🙂 All the best!

David will also be bringing me the entire first season of Legend of the Seeker today, so I’ll have a review of Season 1 for you soon. 🙂 I have to say, I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but since I am a fan of Terry Goodkind’d work, I’m sort of honour-bound to at least give it a go. (Wasn’t impressed with what I’ve seen so far, but I promise to be more optimistic!)

So, I’m also busybusybusy relocating the blog. 🙂 The launch will happen as soon as I’ve finished Under the Dome (that’ll be the first review), and I’ll make an announcement here with a link to the new blog. 🙂 This blog will still be around (as will all the posts on it), and David and I will still be the review-team, but I’ll be using this blog for my writing-stuff and any non-SFF stuff that I want to chat about. 🙂
And I have to say, so far, Blogger is pretty cool.

What’ll I have coming up in the next few weeks? Well, hard to say. 🙂 I’m hoping to have finished All Yesterday’s Tomorrows, and then I’ll be really sinking in to Brent Weeks’ work. 🙂 I’m also itching to give Glenda Larke a go, and then get my re-read of Steven Erikson done so that I can read Dust of Dreams. I’m also hoping to get an ARC of The Other Lands (available to order now!), and then there’ll be a host of indie-published books that I’ll be reviewing (have to get those done!). Will everything work according to plan? Probably not! 🙂

Anyway, that’s me for now – will be back with another post tomorrow. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2009 in Announcements, Musings

 

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