Read from: 11th February
To: 24th February
Length: 1047 pages/34.5 hours
Stephen King writes the epic 1047-page novel depicting the events of a small town named Chester’s Mill in Maine after an invisible force field – later determined to be a dome – crashes down along the town’s borders, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the town. Without any external intervention, the townspeople find themselves at the mercy of those inside the dome with the highest perceived level of power, but do they have the town’s best interests at heart?
Having only read Carrie many years ago and remembering that I hadn’t been particularly fond of it, I had been wanting to give Stephen King’s books another chance. With more than 350 million book sales and over 50 novels under his belt, I knew my dislike for Carrie must have been an anomaly.
I first encountered the Under the Dome as the TV series and I was immediately enthralled by the premise, to the extent that I bought the audiobook, though the near 35 hour length of it did intimidate me for a while, until I was brave enough to sink my teeth into it.
- I love the foreshadowing at the start of the book – the book starts right as the dome smashes down along the town’s borders so we are introduced to the plot straight away. One of the things I loved about the first chapter was the depth of foreshadowing, with King hinting at further problems the characters would later encounter. I feel like it really set the rest of the book up and definitely drummed up my excitement.
- The introduction felt way too long – OK, so after having hyped the first chapter up with the foreshadowing, I’m going to bring it down again with the length, of the first chapter and the book. If my memory recalls correctly, it took about an hour to truly get stuck into the book which is quite a lot of time for foreshadowing and setting the scene and I did start to get a bit bored.
- The entire book is a bit too long – I’m not a massive fan of super long books, so perhaps this book was never going to be completely suited to me from the start, but the near 35 hours I spent listening to this book dragged. While the events of the book were compelling, I found that there were many factors that all worked together to make this book drag on for me and when I hit the halfway point (around the total length of a typical book I would read/listen to) I began to think about scenes and chapters and even whole characters and plot arcs that I wanted to be cut out of the novel because I felt they were unnecessary.
- There are a lot of characters – I say this both as a good and a bad thing. Good because it adds to the realism of the book and shows Stephen King’s attention to detail but bad because it meant I got lost. There were so many characters and with only one voice actor reading the book, it was hard to keep up with who was who. Who is this character, what have they done, and who are they related to? Who are they friends with? Where were they when this event happened? It all got a bit much for me which leads to my next point…
- I lost a lot of the detail – now, I typically listen to my novels at 2.0 speed because listening at 1.0 speed is simply too slow for me. With my brain being so active, I need to be able to consume books quickly else I’ll get bored too easily. So listening to it at 2.0 speed meant that I lost a lot of the detail, in the writing, the characters and the events. I was a bit gutted about this – and it does tempt me to read the book now – but it helped keep the pace at a rhythm that I felt powered me through the 35 hours of the book.
- Not particularly predictable – the entire book is a very unique conception to me so I really struggled trying to accurately guess what was going to happen in the next chapter or by the end. This is a good thing for me, as although I think about what will happen, I like being surprised, however that brings me onto the fact that…
- I don’t like the explanation/reasoning behind the dome – for those of you who want to read/are reading the book, you may be pleased to know that the reasoning for the dome being there is revealed towards the end. However, I don’t think I actually like the explanation. For me, it felt a bit too out-of-genre for the book and quite random.
- The book has a few triggers – including rape, abuse, violence, suicide and general gore, but for me it didn’t hide or sugar-coat any of the issues that people would face in a closed town.
- There are characters you love to hate – as I said earlier, there are a lot of characters. However, within the scope of the main characters, there were characters that I loved to hate. They were villains done well: villains that I disliked and wanted to see fail and that definitely added a dimension of listening to the book that I don’t seem to experience much.
- I want to read the book – I said earlier that I want to read the book to get a better grasp of the details but I also want to read it (as in read the words of the book as opposed to listen to it again) to get a better grasp of the plot, especially as I know now what the explanation is for the dome.
- The author’s note is, in a word, cute – when I listen to an audiobook, I like to listen to the entire length of the recording which means listening to the author’s note at the end of the book. I don’t know if it is the same/if it is present in the written copies of the book but I thought it was so nice!
Overall rating: 7/10
Writing quality: 7/10
Feel good: 2/10
Recommend: I actually quite enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to Stephen King fans, sci-fi fans and people who enjoy getting their teeth stuck into big and chunky reads. I’d also recommend it to those who get on well with a Game of Thrones books, as I find the complexity of the plot, number of characters and length of the novel comparable to the Song of Fire and Ice series (though not as complex, in my opinion!)
Have you read/listened to Under the Dome? Or have you seen the TV series? What did you think?