I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King’s books, considering how many he’s written. I read ‘Under the Dome’ recently as I happened to have it in my bookshelf and the TV-series was coming out. I prefer to read a book first before watching it.

Image from: dreadcentral.comOne of my favourite things about Stephen King is that he can have a plot point that could be really cheesy and lame and make it cool and interesting. Case in point – when I realized he was going to appear in the Dark Tower series as himself and the writer of the story my first thought was “there goes a wonderful series…” but he did a really fantastic job, and it was great. Same sort of thing with ‘Under the Dome’, I found the solution at the end satisfying, and it was a great conclusion to a wonderful book. Another thing I really liked about this book was all the little details about what happens when the Dome comes down – the pollen, the weather, water and air moving through the dome and so on. The little details just add that special something extra. Moving onto characters. I always feel Stephen King does a great job of fleshing out characters in half a page or less, giving you a really good feel for them in a short amount of time. That works for great effect in Under the Dome where you meet and feel something for a variety of ‘unimportant’ people in the town, who subsequently get killed. It makes it matter when someone other than a main character dies. The ‘villains’ of the story inspired fear and dread in me, particularly when one of my favourite characters went to meet one of the bad guys alone. I let out a sigh of relief when he escaped unscathed. The development of the town politics is also very interesting, particularly as you can kinda of see where it’s going and also why it’s going that way.

It was a great book, and one of my favourites by Stephen King. I don’t think I’m going to watch the tv-series though. It’s too soon, and there are quite a few unsettling scenes described in great detail in the book that I don’t particularly want to see on TV, however if the show is anything like the book it’ll probably be great.

the-stand-stephen-kingNow, onto ‘The Stand’. I read this after ‘Under the Dome’ and was really excited as this is the one people always talk about as one of his best books. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. The first third of it was great, interesting characters, the plot moved along nicely and then… you get to a point where nobody is really doing much except wandering around and wondering what to do. There’s a lot of ‘and they went down this route and had this for breakfast and then took this route…’ of course with more detail. But that’s basically what it was, and I found myself skimming parts which I never do. This goes on for a good chunk of the middle. I was reading the updated version, not the original, so maybe the original is better, I don’t know. In the preface King mentions some parts in the new version that weren’t in the old, such as Trashcan’s meeting with the Kid, that I thought were really good and interesting and broke up the monotony nicely, so I don’t know, I can’t say which is better without reading both of them. Generally speaking, I found the plot less interesting and ‘thinner’ than other Stephen King books I’ve read. This might be partly because it was so long and so much of it was filled with not much happening. I also found the antagonist, Randall Flagg, less threatening and frightening than the used-car salesman cum dictator Big Jim of ‘Under the Dome’. Maybe this was because everyone knew Flagg was a bad guy from the beginning, so you didn’t have your favourite character approaching him innocent and unawares, perhaps because you meet him so early and see his face and hear him talk to people, so to the reader he’s not the faceless monster the characters in the story are afraid of… maybe because he just doesn’t seem to do a whole lot? Anyway, I found him disappointing as a villain. I’ve criticized it a lot so I’ll end by saying, despite this, the characters are memorable and interesting, as I’ve found with most Stephen King books. In particular, the description of Larry Underwood as having something in him like biting into tinfoil, really stuck with me.

Has anyone read the original version of ‘The Stand’? Anyone think I’m crazy and wouldn’t know a good book if it hit me in the face? Tell me your thoughts!