Tag: Bad-Ass

Stephen King – Under the Dome | Review

Title: Under the Dome

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 882

Rating: 9/10

 

Stephen King - Under the Dome

Stephen King – Under the Dome

 

I picked up Under the Dome pretty much immediately after finishing The Tommyknockers, another Stephen King novel which deals with a similar subject. Both books focus on what’s happening in a small town, both books take up a decent chunk of time if you want to read them, and both books come recommended from me. Please don’t make me choose between them.

In this book, we’re introduced to Dale Barbara, an ex-army type who’s ended up working as a small-town cook and who found himself getting into a little bit of trouble with local law enforcement. Barbara – or Barbie, as he’s known to his friends – is just about to leave town when disaster strikes.

As you might have guessed from the title, Under the Dome tells the story of what happens when a gigantic invisible dome comes down over the top of a small town in King’s home state of Maine. Barbie finds himself trapped inside, along with the rest of the town’s residents, and after a number of horrific incidents – including a plane crashing straight into the side of the dome and a woman being instantaneously decapitated – they begin to realise that they’re going to be stuck under the dome for a long time.

 

Stephen King

Stephen King

 

The army mobilises itself and promises to do its best to free the residents, but they’re trying to deal with something that they’ve never seen before. Meanwhile, beneath the dome, things are starting to get out of control – even after just a few short days, we begin to see the same thing that we see in Lord of the Flies, and I was actually reminded me of William Golding’s classic novel when I was reading this.

But in many ways, Under the Dome is so much more – there’s a larger cast of characters, for one thing, and it’s set in our modern age. In fact, because I haven’t been reading King’s books in chronological order, I was somewhat surprised to find him writing about the internet – I’m so used to reading books from before I was born that it was almost a shock to my system to find him incorporating elements of our society that I’m more familiar with.

It’s also interesting how he plays with expectations and makes the reader feel contradictory feelings about some of the characters. For example, Jim RennieChester’s Mill’s Second Selectman – acts as the main antagonist, but you have to feel for him, in some ways, because he’s almost defined by his surroundings and his upbringing. And then there’s The Chef, who cooks up crystal meth and starts having biblical delusions – I don’t want to spoil the story line by telling you what happens, but by the end of the book I’d decided that he was a bad-ass, and I was prepared to overlook his shortcomings because of the choices that he made and the actions that he took, however misguided they might have been.

 

Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote

 

My main (and pretty much only) gripe with this book was the ending; after all of the build-up, it felt a little disappointing. In fact, I had a short chat with Missy, a YouTuber who runs a channel called Binge Reader, a fellow blogger who’s also read the book, and she agreed with me. The problem is that the denouement seems to be a little too easy, and almost like it was added as an afterthought; it also feels a little bit like King has tried to end the story with a moral, which turns the whole thing into a parable.

Still, despite that, it’s a rollocking read that keeps you hooked until the end, which is quite a feat when you consider the length of it. Dale Barbara and his friends form a sort of extended family that you end up becoming a part of, and it’s sad to say goodbye to them at the end of the novel. Even after almost 900 pages, I felt like I could have read some more, but it’s also true that it ended where it needed to end.

Overall then, I’d definitely recommend Under the Dome if you’re a fan of longer books – in terms of the time commitment, it’s similar to reading one of the Game of Thrones novels, but unlike the Game of Thrones series, it feels fast when you’re reading it. This is due, in part, to the way that the book is laid out – it comes separated into a number of chapters, each of which includes a number of smaller sub-chapters that help you to see the town of Chester’s Mill as a whole.

I’m not quite ready to call it a masterpiece, but it is a very good book with a lot of thought behind it, and King’s dedication to world-building is immediately apparent when you realise how many different characters are included. The characterisation is great, the story line is fun and full of twists and turns, and overall it’s just a good, solid read. Plus there’s a television adaptation for you to check out, too – I must admit that I haven’t seen it, but the book itself is so cinematic that it’s hardly a surprise. So what are you waiting for?

 

Stephen King Quote

Stephen King Quote

 

Click here to buy Under the Dome.

 


Jesse James Freeman – Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird | Review

Title: Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird

Author: Jesse James Freeman

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 358

Rating: 9/10

 

Jesse James Freeman - Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird

Jesse James Freeman – Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird

 

Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.

Jesse has the somewhat dubious honour of penning the book that’s been the closest any book has ever got to scoring a ten without actually doing so. He’s a friend of Allie Burke, whose ‘Paper Souls‘ I’ve recently reviewed, and I had to confess to Allie that his book is better, and Allie scored a nine. I don’t award half marks, but if I did then Paper Souls would be an 8.5 and Billy Purgatory would be a 9.5.

Seriously, I can only fault it in a couple of ways – first up, it took a little while to get in to  the story-line, and secondly I don’t think Freeman should have included the first chapter of the next book in the series as an appendix, because it left me feeling indifferent and caused me to question whether it should affect my review of book one.

Other than that, my god this is good – it’s rare to read a book with so much promise, and even rarer for the first book in a series to kick ass so much – we’re talking better than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and on a par with Prisoner of Azkaban, which was my favourite. I can only think of one trilogy which has a better opener, and that’s Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. If anyone can beat Northern Lights then they’d score an 11.

And it’s badass, too – I couldn’t really decide whether it was a young adult novel or just a novel – I suspect that it’s the former, and that Freeman just has a knack for speaking to young adults in their own language. He’s got to be a kid at heart, really – otherwise, how else would you be able to write a book this good about a skateboarding bad-ass, a bunch of demigods and a fit vampire who takes playing hard to get to a new level?

 

Jesse James Freeman

Jesse James Freeman

 

Click here to buy Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird.

 


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