Coming Out From Under the Dome

July 16, 2013 Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian, Psychological, Supernatural 36

Howdy, Bookworms!

Exciting news today: I survived the DomeAlong! I have some thoughts to share on the second half of the book soooo… SPOILER ALERT!!! (I’m not kidding, it’s like ALL the SPOILERS.) You’ve been warned. Ready?

Under the Dome lengthwise

When we last spoke, I was getting frustrated with the one dimensional bad guys (who were just the evilest of evil) and the fact that the good guys couldn’t catch a break. They had also alluded to the fact that the Dome was probably caused by aliens, so I wasn’t too surprised to learn that was indeed the case. This book had an astonishingly high body count, so I’m just going to write out some tidbits and illustrate my reactions with gifs.

Let’s talk bad guys. I think the most satisfying revenge-y deaths were Georgia and Frank. The fact that Sammy got even a teeny bit of revenge for the hideous gang rape she suffered (even though she then killed herself…) pleased me. Not sure what that says about me as a human. Then Junior. Evil, brain tumored Junior. He came by his wickedness honestly, being the offspring of Big Jim Rennie, but Junior was killed in the heat of battle as he tried to mow Barbie down in a jail cell. Luckily for Barbie, Junior’s tumor was getting really bad and his aim was crap. That and the little band coming to break Barbie out of jail arrived just in time. I might have preferred to see Junior drawn and quartered, but I suppose being shot by a good guy helped curve a little bit of my revenge lust…

The good guys who rescued Barbie (and Rusty, because he managed to get himself arrested, too) decide to hide out near where they discovered the device producing the dome. Turns out the Dome was indeed the plaything of aliens. Plaything being the operative word. King was a bit heavy handed in drawing the comparison to ants being burnt under a magnifying glass, but the effect was pretty creepy. The people were trapped in a town that was self destructing by adolescent ne’er-do-well aliens. It reminded me of this old Twilight Zone episode where a ballerina, bagpiper, clown, and a couple other people are mysteriously trapped in a room. At the end it turns out that they’re TOYS in a donation bin.

Preach it, Cam. (Source)

Preach it, Cam. (Source)

Meanwhile, remember that meth lab on the outskirts of town? The drug addled Chef (who was, coincidentally, married to Sammy Bushey, gang rape victim, Bratz doll torturer, occasional lover of Junior’s second murder victim, and mother of Little Walter) has gone COMPLETELY off his rocker and starts threatening anybody who comes near his lil slice o’ heaven with machine guns. Andy Sanders (the first town selectman) decides to try and off himself but chickens out. He’s heard about Chef and his machine guns and goes out to visit (hoping he’ll be killed so he doesn’t have to do it himself. You know. Sin and all.) Instead of meeting his maker, Andy is introduced to the joys of meth and becomes Chef’s disciple. Greeeeat right? Well, the two of those yahoos smoke themselves into oblivion, which would be innocuous enough, if they weren’t also hell-bent on bringing about the End of Days. Do you know much about meth labs? They’re full of outrageously explosive chemicals and sometimes blow up unprovoked. If you’re The Chef and you’ve already lost your marbles, you think it’s a good idea to wire the whole place with dynamite, just to help things along.

So that happens. And since the Dome is really bad about air exchange, anybody who isn’t vaporized immediately succumbs to the oppressive fumes shortly thereafter, with a couple exceptions. The good guys who were hiding out on the ridge manage to get to the dome and have the military set up super industrial fans to push a little bit of fresh air through. The kid who shot his eye out at the very beginning of the book (because Ralphie’s mom was RIGHT, dangit!) had a brother who managed to hide in the cellar under a pile of potatoes and breathe some oxygen his dead grandfather had left in the house. And yes, Big Jim Rennie, cockroach that he is, manages to get himself and his newly minted “son,” Carter (who happened to also be a rapist, though Big Jim isn’t one to fixate on such trivialities) into the town’s old fallout shelter. After he kills Carter (who, in fairness, was trying to kill Big Jim,) I was beginning to get super pissed that Big Jim would survive. Then, I kind of hoped that he WOULD survive, because he’d be forced to face the music for all his evil deeds. Needless to say I was a little annoyed when he was taken out by a heart attack. No answering for his crimes except (hopefully) eternal damnation?

So the good guys eventually manage to get out of the Dome… By appealing to the punk-ass alien kids who are holding them hostage. This part sort of reminded me of the end of Ender’s Game (so I guess, SPOILER ALERT again.) The alien kids thought that it was all a game, they didn’t think people had feelings or whatever. It was a sadistic little game, just like kids burning ants with a magnifying glass, or giant bug-like aliens attempting to exterminate the indigenous species of planet Earth because they didn’t understand that humans were in fact intelligent beings. (I can’t really blame the poor buggers for that one, sometimes we ARE pretty dense.) Anyhow. Julia manages to convince one little alien kid to lift the Dome, and like 10 people get out. Out of 2,000. Not great odds, but it’s Stephen King, you know?

What I don’t understand is why they didn’t try the psychic begging angle before. Like… Julia’s final encounter with the aliens wasn’t the FIRST they’d had- why didn’t it occur to anyone to try to throw their brain waves and beg for mercy? They could have gotten out, Big Jim could have had a big public airing of his misdeeds and been punished appropriately, and the Chef wouldn’t have had the opportunity to kill basically everyone because his meth brain thought he was doing God’s work. I mean… Really?

Amy and I are not pleased. (Source)

Amy and I are not pleased. (Source)

So, um yeah. I don’t think Under the Dome was King’s best effort. I mean, it’s fine, I guess, but it’s not The Stand. It’s more like… The Stand… Light. Just 10 calories. Not Stand-ish enough. I have heard that a lot of people looooove this book, so I’m feeling a little Debbie Downer-ish here. Has anybody else read Under the Dome? What’s your take on it?

36 Responses to “Coming Out From Under the Dome”

  1. Amanda

    I can honestly say I didnt love it. I dragged through it. I dont even think I can say I liked it much. I love Stephen King, but certainly not this one.

  2. Nish

    I haven’t read this book, but your description doesn’t sound encouraging AT ALL. I am going to give this one a skip. Stephen King always is pretty up and down for me anyway, some are brilliant, most are tedious.

  3. Ashley F

    After he got hit by that car most of his books started to take an alien spin that I don’t enjoy. One word. Dreamcatcher.

    • Words for Worms

      It wasn’t even the aliens that bothered me… It was just… The bad guys had no depth, and they were so outlandishly evil. And then the body count… Sigh. No.

      • Ashley F

        I’ve been watching the show and Junior is seriously psycho. Like seriously.

  4. Charleen

    I already mentioned last time that I don’t care for this. And it was the first King I ever read so I’m really glad I didn’t give up on him, but yeah, not his strongest, and really long for what it ended up being.

    • Words for Worms

      My first King put me off King for YEARS. It was Bag of Bones, and it freaked me out to the point of nightmares and avoiding refrigerator magnets… This just wasn’t that great. I can’t muster up an enthusiasm.

  5. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    I had a good time with Under the Dome. I hadn’t read a big King in years and it felt all comfy and homey to me. Nah, it wasn’t The Stand, but then what is right?

    I finished this forever ago and probably won’t be wrapping up my final thoughts. This is why I am all the suckage at readalongs. LOL If anyone wants my opinion I’ll just shoot them over here to your post!

    • Words for Worms

      True. Maybe that was part of my problem- holding this up to The Stand’s standards. You are NOT suckage at readalongs, but now I want to use “suckage” in my every day vocabulary!

  6. Megan

    I thought the ending was sort of a cop out, until I read The Gunslinger and learned about the whole “There are other worlds than this” theme that SK writes about. I have to say the book held my attention the whole time, and that deserves at least 4 out of 5 stars. Is it bad that I am not enjoying the show? I am NOT one of those people who has to have the series exactly follow the book, either. I like seeing changes. I guess the show isn’t allowed to be as racy as the book when tackling the anti-religion themes.

    • Words for Worms

      I kind of like the whole Twilight Zone other worlds effect- is The Gunslinger part of the ginormous Dark Tower series that intimidates me, or is it a stand alone? And no, it’s not bad at all that you’re not enjoying the show because it sounds like they’re taking a whole lot of liberties with it!

  7. Rory

    This one was a bit meh for me, I do think King has the tendency to end books badly. It just sort of runs out of steam. Also, I feel SK and aliens aren’t a great fit (Dreamcatcher, The Tommyknockers, and this one were all underwhelming).

    I’m not totally caught up on the miniseries yet, but I also found it…underwhelming. (I need a new word, obviously.)

  8. Wayne

    To be fair, I think Stephen King did some very interesting books in his earlier career: *The Shining*, *Carrie*, and *Salem’s Lot* being good examples of his writing at his best. He started to lose me with *The Stand* (which I couldn’t get through) and *Pet Cemetery*. A National Book Award for lifetime achievement? Please :-(

    • Words for Worms

      I really loved The Stand and 11.22.63. I think he is totally capable of greatness, but it’s such a high standard to live up to that when he falls short I get all teacher-ish and think “I expected more from you, Stephen.”

  9. Nadia

    I loved the story, except the ending. What a disappointment! I couldn’t believe King went that route in the end. Not my fave by King, but was still a good read (until the end).

    • Words for Worms

      Once the explosion happened I was just done. Why didn’t they beg earlier? It wasn’t a horrible read or anything, I just wanted more from it. I want everything to be The Stand, basically. And why did he keep killing off the dogs? I liked the dogs better than most of the people!

  10. Kayla Sanchez

    I did appreciate the fact that King balanced such a huge cast of characters, but when he pulled out the alien thing (which I’m not sure why I didn’t see that coming, what with the whole force field dome thing) I was a bit… eh. It was a bit too depressing at the end, and after I had read 1000 pages I was really drained. I’ve kept it on my shelf, maybe I’ll read it again one day.

  11. Cindy

    I liked it, but didn’t love it. I was so glad when both Rennies finally died. The part between the cow kid and the soldier on the other side of the dome who wouldn’t leave him really got to me. I would have been angry if he hadn’t made it. And I can’t even remember who did & didn’t make it from the group at the farmhouse. I’m recording the series, but haven’t managed to watch it.

    What I did love? The preview of Doctor Sleep! That looks like it will be good.

  12. Helen @ My Novel Opinion

    So glad you finished! I finished it last week but didn’t type out my final thoughts yet. I missed the mid way post too whoops! I enjoyed this, not as good as 11/22/63 which I devoured in a couple of days…that was THE BEST KING I have read in years! But then again I haven’t read The Stand yet and I still don’t know why. I must buy it and guilt myself into reading it.

    I thought the ending was strange, a little rushed maybe. I would’ve liked to read more after the dome disappeared…maybe an expansion on why the aliens did it or the reaction of those left.

    I really struggled to get into this one, but after about a third of the way through I couldn’t put it down.

    Now the TV mini series – wow they changed a lot. My husband keeps asking “who’s that”, “what do they do” and I’m like “that wasn’t in the book, I don’t know”. I feel like too much has been changed and I’m only 2 episodes in :( Maybe I set my expectations too high!

    • Words for Worms

      I’ve heard a lot of people mention they weren’t crazy about the ending of this book. I’ve heard even worse things about the mini series.

      • Heather

        There are LOTS of King fans out there (many more hardcore than me) who hated the ending of this book. You’re definitely in good company.

  13. Kelly

    I, too, did not love the ending. I had a very Amy Poehler “Really?” reaction to it. I think it felt too random to me. Like oh, we’ve been dealing with the dome and all these very real-life type situations within it for 1000 pages, and ohwaitnevermind ALIENS.
    However…I loved the rest of the novel so much, that I forgave King and I still recommend this book…just not as much as The Stand. :)

  14. Wayne

    I may seem like a curmudgeon but King has become repetitious and boring. As a writer I think he’s a gnat on the shoes of Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Graham Masterton. I’d rather go to a bad Adam Sandler movie than read another of his books.

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