Under the Dome

Under the Dome

by: Stephen King

Published: 2009

# of pages: 1072

Quote: "'Cinnamon graham crackers rock,' Aidan said. 'I love you, Caro.'
Carolyn smiled. She thought no poem she'd ever read had been so beautiful. Not even the Williams one about the cold plums." -p. 851

I have to admit, this is only the second Stephen King book I've read. A few years ago I read Cell. My mom was reading this a couple of months ago and I was intrigued and had to check it out. I'm glad I did, but it was disturbing, more so than Cell.

The story is about a small town in Maine that is suddenly and mysteriously covered by a impenetrable dome. As anyone can imagine, the appearance of the dome causes many tragic accidents which are followed by confusion and speculation. There's a myriad of characters in the town, including a corrupted power hungry "second town selectman," his psycho son, an ex-military lieutenant working as a cook in the town's diner, a determined newspaper woman, a caring physician's assistant, a twisted preacher, a confused preacher, and a cool geek genius teenager as well as many others.

As you can tell from the presence of two preachers in the list of main characters, religion plays a big (and not so great) part in the book. I think it's a motif of King's to use twisted religious characters (??). They claim to be great Christians, but often they end up being horrible bad guys who use religion as a cover up or even as an excuse to do wrong. It kind of bothered me since I'm a Christian. Most of the time this use of religion in stories and movies doesn't bother me because I think it can be more original and, unfortunately, it is often true that bad people claim to be Christians and even quote the Bible while doing terrible things. However, something about this book did kind of bother me. I felt that King went out of his way to convey bitter personal opinions. Of course, this is the only book I've read that has that, I'm just basing this speculation from watching "The Shawshank Redemption." lol

Anyway, after the town accepts the presence of the dome, the second town selectman, Rennie, uses the citizens' confusion to take control and create a police presence (controlled by him) in the town. A few people decide to stand up to him and to try to find the source of the dome and hopefully discover how to make it disappear. Barbie is the ex-military lieutenant who got on Rennie's bad side after fighting with the selectman's son, Junior. He leads the resistance along with Julia, the newspaper woman who stands up to Rennie and pays the price. Rusty is a physician's assistant at the local hospital who suddenly becomes a leader in many ways after the dome appears. He tries his best to help everyone and still be a good husband and father. These characters join up with other characters trying to help and solve the town's problems and they all face dangers together in the days following the dome's appearance.

Not only is Rennie trying to take over the town, but there's a crazy drug addict, The Chef, living on the edge of town who feels it is his job to punish everyone for their sins. He's a hidden threat that people only slightly understand, which makes him even more dangerous. There's also a band of thugs roaming the towns streets and hurting anyone who gets in their way. Add to the mix the bad air, lack of rain, and other environmental hardships and you have a pretty miserable town.

Overall the book is very depressing and graphically violent. It's very detailed and a lot of terrible things happen to innocent people. There's also a lot of nasty language. I don't really know why I kept reading it, but it is a very fascinating story that keeps you hooked. There's some great characters and there were a few characters I was rooting for and wanted to find out what happened to them. There was one character in particular that I found myself attached to. I told myself that if that character died I would put the book down and never pick it up again, even if I only had a few pages left. I'll go into more details below so that I don't spoil the book for those interested in reading it! Needless to say, I finished the book. :-)

Anyway, I only give this book three stars because there wasn't quite enough in there to make up for the violence and language. There was also one thing about the plot that bothered me. I will also go into details below so I don't spoil it. This is a sci-fi book that might be a little too "out there" for some, but I recommend it to fans of the sci-fi genre, fans of King's novels and stories, and those who like an action packed (but LONG) book!

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The character I became attached to was that of Little Walter Bushey, an 18 month old boy. He doesn't play a major part, but I just couldn't stand the thought that anything would happen to him. There's several times in the book that he's in a dangerous situation, but thankfully he survives!!! lol I don't know why I felt so strongly about his safety that I'd actually stop reading if he didn't make it, but I did.

Also, the part of the plot that I thought should have been slightly changed was when Rusty finds the box generating the dome and then makes the connection shortly after that the "leatherheads" are children "playing" with the town. He didn't seem to have any concrete feeling about it, it was just an idea. Then another character sees the leatherheads and confirms that they are children. I felt like it would have been more natural if Rusty discovered the leatherheads, but then another character had a strong feeling that they were children. THEN Rusty could have made the connection to his past friend who would torture ants. Anyway, not a big deal, but I just felt like their discovery was rushed and a little too convenient.

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Five Quarters of the Orange

Five Quarters of the Orange
by: Joanne Harris

Challenges: What's in a Name?

Published: 2001

# of pages: 307

I randomly chose this from a recommended books list on librarything.com because it has a food in its title and works for the What's in a Name? 3 challenges. It wasn't until I started reading it that I noticed it's by the "New York Times bestselling author of Chocolat." I read Chocolat a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. Once I noticed Five Quarters of the Orange is by the same author, I saw the similarities between this novel and Chocolat. The similarities are very obvious at the beginning (single mother who loves to cook - especially desserts, opens her own cafe in a small French town, is mysterious, befriends an "outcast" man....). However, the story quickly becomes its own and the reader is soon wrapped up in the mystery that the main character, Framboise, tells.

The story is about Framboise, a woman in her 60s who returns to the town of her childhood. The only thing is - no one knows its her. She keeps her identity a secret as she lives in the house she grew up in, restores the farm, and opens her own cafe in town. Framboise tells the story of her childhood and the story of her more recent past after she returns to her childhood home. The reader begins to see how the two time lines connect and exactly why Framboise is keeping her name and personal history a secret.

Framboise grew up with her widowed mother (Framboise's father was killed in WWII), her brother Cassis, and her sister Reine-Claude. Framboise's mother loves cooking. And that may just be the only thing she loves in Framboise's childish eyes. The mother suffers debilitating headaches that are preceded by the smell of oranges. Oranges are the one thing she fears and Framboise picks up on this and uses it against her mother at the age of 9.

The child Framboise is feisty, wild, confused, and bitter. She's starting to grow up and doesn't have any help. She turns to a German man, one of many soldiers occupying the town. She is influenced and guided by him to help spy on the residents of the town. She receives gifts for her work (such as oranges), but the most valuable gift he gives her is what she perceives as friendship.

The woman Framboise is hard working and open minded. She is afraid the past will take over, but is determined to stay in control. Her daughters no longer live with her and she wants more than anything to protect them from the dark secrets of her past. One of the things later in the book that is similar to Chocolat is the threat of her cafe's business being taken away. Not because she is a "heathen," but because someone has found out her secret...

I didn't think I'd enjoy this at first, even though it seemed similar to Chocolat. It actually frustrates me to read books that are really similar. However, this had more "action" in it. More mystery. It's darker than Chocolat. I recommend this to adults who are fans of Harris' other novels, who enjoy "dramatic mysteries," WWII novels, historical fiction.... There's some bad language, so it may not be appropriate for young adults, but it isn't enough to ruin the novel and make it unenjoyable for adults.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

Mystic and Rider

Mystic and Rider
by: Sharon Shinn

Series: The Twelve Houses Series, Book 1

Challenges: Once Upon a Time

Published: 2005

# of pages: 421

First of all, I'm sorry to say that the cover of this book is BLAH. It's a picture of the main character, Senneth. I always hate it when cover illustrations of characters don't match up with the descriptions or with the way I imagine them to be. I especially hate ugly character illustrations. Sorry whoever drew that!!

This is the first in a series and boy, what a beginning! The story follows several characters, but the point of view alternates between two characters, Senneth and Tayse. Senneth is a "mystic," someone with magical powers who lives in the kingdom of the Twelve Houses (twelve districts governed by houses of nobility and overall ruled over by the king). She has a variety of powers, but her main power is the gift of fire/heat. Tayse is a king's rider who was commanded by the king to follow Senneth and offer his protection as she carries out the king's mission, as mysterious as that is. Senneth is just as mysterious as her mission, and Tayse finds it hard to trust her although they spend day in and day out together.

Along with Senneth and Tayse, the king's mission is being carried out by Senneth's friend Kirra, a noble lady who is also a mystic and can transform objects into other things and transform herself into different shapes. Donnal is Kirra's bodyguard/boyfriend who is also a mystic and can transform into animal shapes. Justin is another king's rider who was commanded to protect Senneth and her friends. They are belated joined by Cammon, a mystic boy who can sense people's emotions/thoughts that they rescue from slavery in one of the towns they visit.

Mystics are treated with suspicion and sometimes violence in the kingdom and things are getting worse as worshipers of the moon goddess spread lies and malevolence against mystics in the southern houses. The group runs into trouble almost everywhere they go, mainly because of their large number of mystics.

Senneth is an interesting character. She's strong and intelligent and Shinn does a great job of making that come across in her writing. Senneth is a mysterious lady and everything the reader learns about her makes us like her more and more.

My only complaint about this novel is that it is a little too much to be in one book. I would have liked to see a more clear cut rising action/climax/falling action structure. I think the fact that the group was constantly traveling had a lot to do with this. There was either action or nothing because all the characters did between conflicts was travel. I think it would have worked better to leave out some of the conflicts or make this into 2 books.

And last of all, I couldn't help but notice the theme of double letters in names!!! Here's just a few that I noticed and can remember:
Character names:
Place names/Houses:

And that's just a SMALL portion! lol

Anyway, I recommend this to lovers of fantasy and those who are already fans of Shinn's novels (I reviewed The Truth-Teller's Tale a year ago). I think this will appeal more to adults, but don't remember anything particularly unfit for young adults to read.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

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