Review of Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’
Stephen King’s Under the Dome is a epic sized novel that has a definite apocalyptic flavor to it, much like other tales of his, including The Stand and Cell, though in this world, only a single town gets to face its apocalypse. Chester Mills has been sealed off from the rest of the world by an impregnable force field that quite simply turns the inside of this barrier into an island, a world of its own.
We are introduced to a very large array of the townsfolk and while there is communication with the outside world, the narration almost exclusively remains with those inside the dome for the entire 1072 pages of this book. I don’t want to get into a list of characters, but suffice it to say that Stephen King does an excellent job, as usual, in really giving us a depth of understanding of each of them. The most intriguing character has to be Big Jim Rennie, used car salesman and Chester Mill’s Second Selectman. He is the man in charge, the man who has played dirty politics his entire career and the man who knows where all the bodies are buried. For a man like Jim, the dome is an opportunity. With no say so, the outside world has little power to stop him as he creates a police state and works to give himself complete control over everything under the dome. There are those who would try to stop him, led by a man the town considers a drifter and a short order cook but who is ex-military and the man appointed by the President of the United States to be the liaison to the people of Chester Mills. But given that the United States no longer has any real authority inside the dome, things don’t really go as the outside world might expect.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way King shows how depraved human beings can become, while still showing that some will remain honest, kind, and good. When all is lost, most people will crave leadership, even if it is of the most deplorable kind. Group think and the mob mentality plays a big part in the way things go under the dome and I was intrigued by a story that takes place over a relatively short period of time and moves rapidly despite the size of the tale. Things crumble fast and it is truly scary to think how easy this could happen.
If there is a gripe I have with this book, and a reason I didn’t think it pitch perfect, it is because the ending seemed rather rushed. I know it may sound ludicrous, but I believe there could been a great deal more to this story than what there was, even at 1072 pages. My desire to see how this experiment in human nature might have ended had circumstances been altered and allowed to carry on a bit further makes it tough for me to say I was completely satisfied by this still compelling story. I do love how detailed King gets with his characters and the environment he puts them in and that will always bring me back for more with him. Under the Dome is still an excellent story despite my misgivings about the ending, which did tie things up nicely and tidily, but left me with a sense that thinks still could have gotten more dirty, more disturbing, had the slow burn that leads up to the ending had been allowed to play itself out instead of having things come to an abrupt halt. Still, this is an epic Stephen King tale and one I definitely enjoyed a great deal.
Under the Dome can be found at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Under-Dome-Novel-Stephen-King/dp/1439148503/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274810329&sr=1-1