Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Out From Under ...

The problem with creating monsters is that at some point you have to reveal them. Worse yet, the more horrific ... the more terrifying ... those monsters are, the harder that reveal becomes. This holds true whether we're talking books or movies or television ... in the end, you have to show the monster.

When it comes to authors, Stephen King is usually up to the task. And let's face it, this is a problem he faces more than most. In his case, almost every book contains a monster ... and whether it's a monster you hate such as Pennywise or Randall Flagg ... or a monster you pity such as Carrie or Charlie ... most of the time, his reveals are gory, gruesome, and satisfying. Unfortunately, no one is perfect ... no one bats a hundred.

I don't know if I'm one of the "constant readers" that King references ... but I probably come pretty close. I've read most of his books ... some I've adored, others not so much. Book reviews don't phase me ... I prefer to decide for myself.

For instance, everyone loves The Stand and It, right? But what about Cell? From the moment I picked it up, Cell was one of my absolute favorites. Reviewers and I differ on that opinion ... but that's alright. My Blackberry is on me at all times ... and the concept of "The Pulse" terrified me.

On the other end of that spectrum is Insomnia and The Dark Tower Series. I couldn't force myself to finish Insomnia ... and I've picked up The Dark Tower time and time again but it just doesn't pull me in. And that's what I need from a Stephen King book ... that initial grab that just doesn't let go.

Which brings us to Under the Dome. It grabbed me hard ... and I couldn't stop reading. But in the end ... that "it factor" just wasn't ... there.

Was it the reveal? Maybe. I can't say much without spoiling it for you; but discovering the monster who trapped these people under the dome ... it didn't give me that sense of dread and terror that I expected. The problem may have also been the large cast of characters. Ginny and Gina ... Sammy and Rusty ... Twitch and Chef ... Julia and Brenda ... sweet Jesus, man! I kept thinking, "Is Joe that smart kid that accidentally shot himself? Wait no ... that kid is dead. Ollie? No. So who the hell is Joe?"

It's a decent read ... fair. But it's far from one of King's best. I'm not one of those readers who believe his best days are behind him. The Shining was a work of art ... but, as I said earlier, I loved Cell and I've loaned my copy of Everything's Eventual out so many times, I no longer remember who has it.

So go out to Barnes & Noble and get a copy. Better yet, if you have an iPod, Kindle, or iPad, go download it. Under the Dome really is an enjoyable read ... as long as you keep your expectations somewhere in the middle. Just remember ... it's not The Shining ... but hey, it's not Insomnia either.

I read your book
And I find it strange
That I know that girl and I know her world
A little too well

Cheryl Crow - The Book