Under the Dome – Stephen King

Posted on: April 5, 2010

One bright October day, a transparent and impenetrable dome falls over Chester’s Mill, Maine. The dome follows the exact town limits in all directions and extends for miles into the air. The entire town, and all inhabitants, is trapped. No one knows where the dome came from, its purpose, or how long it will remain in place.

At over 1000 pages, this brick of a book brings to mind past epic works by King, such as IT and The Stand. Thankfully, the author has included a cheat sheet, something like a “who’s who” of the characters in the book. There are about thirty players who have significant roles in this story. Due to the complexity of juggling this many characters and their related subplots, this isn’t a casual read.

It is, however, a rather interesting study in both small town politics and human behavior. While those of us who live in small towns would hope our own local elected officials aren’t raving lunatics hiding under a thin veneer of normalcy, how would we really know? Answer – you can’t.

If your town were suddenly cut off from the rest of the world, how long do you think it would take before the citizens riot at the local grocery store? King’s answer to this is – not long at all.

For me, King has always been hit and miss. I loved the Dark Tower series, hated Cell. Enjoyed IT, could have done without Rose Madder. With Under the Dome, the book itself is hit and miss with me. I enjoyed the overall plot. I felt most of the characters behaved logically, given their stated backgrounds and personalities. But, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying this, King’s strong suit it NOT with his story endings. This one was pretty outlandish, even by King standards.

While the story has a healthy dose of science fiction, I’d still classify it as post-apocalyptic horror. Those who, like me, read a lot of end of the world stories will no doubt have issues with some aspects of this book. Particularly those characters who treat a crisis of this magnitude as carte blanche to do what they please. However, consider this – those same characters behave just as their real life counterparts likely would. That fact alone should scare the hell out of you.

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