Monday, August 02, 2010

Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King

My review of Stephen King's latest opus, Under the Dome, appears today in Strange Horizons.  It's a strange book--definitely not up to the standard of King's heyday, but suggesting so many new directions he might have gone in, and then failing to follow through, that I ended up finding it simultaneously invigorating and depressing.

8 comments:

chance said...

I still get the creeps from some of King's early work, particularly The Night Shift.

Alexander said...

It was an interesting review, thank you. Last year I read the first hundred pages of Under the Dome then put it down, it seemed to be taking far too long to setup a rather basic scenario, and lacked the intensity and pace he's delivered previously, and especially with the Stand.

I only came to King's writing over the last year and a half, and as I see it the drop off in quality is pretty sharp. Sure, his stuff in the '70s and '80s wasn't top tier writing, but it was very effective and compulsively readable. Nothing of his that I've seen in the last ten years has been near as good, and the description of how long the villain's stale strawman antics goes on is rather disquieting. Don't think I'll ever get back to finishing that work.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

I can't really recommend that you finish Under the Dome, Alexander, though the last hundred pages really are special. Coming to King as I did, I've read mostly his 80s and 90s stuff, and of that the novel I love best is Bag of Bones, which is creepy and compulsively readable (and one of the few I've reread so I'm pretty sure it holds up. I also really loved Needful Things and It but haven't gone back to them since I was a teenager). I also really like his shorter fiction. The novella collection Different Seasons is brilliant (and contains the stories on which were based the films Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and Apt Pupil) and his last-but-one collection, Everything's Eventual, is also very good.

Chuk said...

I might have to read Bag of Bones again -- I found it forgettable at the time. I do like his shorter fiction the most.

Kaffee Beast said...

Like Alexander, I began the book and put it down. Your review perfectly summed up why. Not only was bad guy Rennie an offensive caricature, he was badly written. In King's good ole days (such as The Stand) a evil villain was actually really evil, the devil on earth. Despite King's histrionics, Republicans are not demons. We're real people, and our flaws make much better reading when we're written with the human graces we all carry. King diminishes himself with this kind of writing. It's a shame, too. The Dome falls over a Maine town in which I lived, and near which King vacations, and I was getting a kick out of the local insider track. King was a beloved read in my teen years but that nostalgia (and your review) are not enough to entice me to read all the way to the last 100 pages.

Anonymous said...

LOVED Under the Dome. Just finished it today. I rank it up there with the Stand and It. Big Jim Rennie was one of the biggest and most hated evil characters he's written about. Great job and looking forward to a potential mini series. GREAT concept!

Matthew D C said...

Nice review. I just wrote on myself. I was pretty dissapointed overall. Some suggest this book takes us back to the old King but I don't see that at all.

Anonymous said...

Great book- the best of his I've read since 'Salem's Lot, and in much the same style.
The Lee Child references were amusing, and the pace fast after a rather long scene-setting start. The involvement of the group of kids reminded me of Stand By Me, and the references are refreshingly non-PC.

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