#77 – Under the Dome, by Stephen King
- Read: 8/4/16 – 8/8/16
- Provenance: Library (hardcover)
- Challenge: PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016
- Task: A dystopian novel
- Rating: 5/5 stars
For a 1074-page brick of a novel, I sure read this fast. It was surprisingly hard to put down.
Ever since I read The Stand, I’ve been a sucker for dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction. (I know they’re not strictly speaking the same thing, but they usually scratch the same itch for me.) It wasn’t my first exposure to Stephen King–I’m pretty sure that was Pet Sematary, though it was long enough ago, and I borrowed so many from my friend Angela that school year, I’m honestly not sure which of his early novels came first.
But when I read The Stand at fourteen, it set the bar for me on how to set the world on fire.
I think Under the Dome is better. I know many won’t agree with me (and don’t, already) but I can explain.
UtD takes what I loved best about The Stand and distills it from the aspects I liked less, keeping the brisk pace and abject horror of the “aftermath” section (one of my all-time favorites) and the interesting, well-developed cast of characters, while leaving behind the larger Biblical tropes and the epic scale.
I was worried at first that a sealed-room premise wouldn’t be able to sustain such a long book, but I hadn’t counted on just how much was going on under Chester Mill’s quaint small-town exterior.
And I was eagerly turning every page to find out.
#78 – The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck
- Read: 8/8/16 – 8/10/16
- Provenance: Owned (paperback)
- Challenge: PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016; also #readwomensummer
- Task: A classic from the 20th century
- Rating: 1/5 stars
DNF @ 15%. I kept telling myself to pick it up and give it another try–the language is simple, the chapters are short, it must start to get good soon, right?
But my modern American feminism kept getting in the way. I realize this is a depiction of pre-revolution China, published in 1932, so my personal moral compass is pretty alien to the story–but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy reading how badly every female character is depicted, treated, or spoken of.
(How ironic that I’m reading a classic written by a woman, for #readwomensummer, and I had to put it down because of its horrendous treatment of women.)
So I stopped reading. Wang Lung had the potential at his introduction in the first chapter to be an engaging hero, but it turns out he (and everyone else) is a broadly-drawn cartoon of a person; and also he’s an unlikeable man who takes his wife for granted the minute she pops out his first son.
If I knew the story were actually a Pride Goes Before the Fall plot, where in the end I’d get to see Wang Lung get some come-uppence, I might have tried harder to keep going–but I’m aware of the story enough to know he’s the hero, and I wasn’t about to stick around for it.