Stephen King’s Under the Dome

This is what real book jackets should look like.
This is what real book jackets should look like.

“Lengthy” doesn’t really describe Stephen King’s Under the Dome.  Epically enduring is probably more fitting, as the 1000+ page book spins a story of a small town thrown into chaos by being cut off from the world via a dome.  One similar to those fancy force fields we see on sci-fi films, except this dome does not have an exit or entrance, it blocks all directions.  As far as a story confined to just one chunk of land goes, King manages to tell quite a tale that focuses on human interaction and reaction in a time of crisis, which puts the characters before the mystery, which is a major failure of the current television show of the same name.

Chester’s mill seems to be a quiet town, but it has its fair share of secrets.  A deep cutting drug trade is rooted in the town and the most powerful man in town, “Big Jim” Rennie is the head honcho.  Even though he is only a councilman, the novel establishes his figure quickly.  Opposed to Big Jim’s plans are  Dale “Barbie” Barbara. who is just a guy trying to get out of Chester’s mill because of certain issues.  These two forces clash, and of course, each of them have their supporting characters.

When the dome smothers Chester’s Mill from the world, we witness the collapse of society.  Prices rise and resources run low.  Air quality is heavily impacted by even the smallest bits of pollution and justice is not distributed in the best way possible.  Healthcare is iffy and it falls apart as the town continues to stay unattached from the world around it.

Also, since it is Stephen King, we get a creep factor out of the story.  The imagery he uses is dark and twisted and things his characters do, such as Jim Jr.’s necrophilia, really give it that shocking touch.  Under the Dome explores the most crude forms of humanity in its most primal form – Greed, Violence, Jealousy and Power are all things the town has to deal with.

The book ends a little lackluster, but it is an interesting conclusion at least.  It is a bit of a different ending for a Stephen King novel.  The ending may not be the greatest, but the journey there is the real reward.  Characters are lively and not entirely two dimensional.  Everyone has a humane side that is in constant threat of being tainted as survival becomes more difficult.

I give Under the Dome a 4 out of 5 stars.  I loved the book, it had great pacing for such a long novel, but it was very fast.  The mystery was enjoyable, but witnessing the evolution of the story’s characters was tremendous.  I only wish the book had a stronger ending.

Interesting Tidbits

The Dark Tower Watch
Stephen King is responsible for one of the greatest stories of our time, The Dark Tower.  In this series, many of his works are referenced or directly linked to this universe.  In the case of Under the Dome, Roger Killian, a chicken farmer, has three sons.  Two of them are named Randall and Roland – two main characters in the Dark Tower.  The radio station’s security code is 1693, which adds up to 19 (a prominent number in Dark Tower) and there is a bus 19, and the dome goes down around 11:44, which 11+4+4 is 19 (I know, it’s a stretch!).  Also mentioned is the “Great Bear Constellation.”

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