Book: Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
Published by: Gallery Books (2013 edition), originally published 2009
So I’ve been a fan of Stephen King for a long time. I know a lot of people complain about his endings, which probably stems from his writing methodology. He has stated that he starts with an idea and just runs with it, with no idea where the story will end up. I’ve heard of other writers who like this writing strategy because they grow bored otherwise, though I don’t personally hold with this philosophy. I usually plan a beginning and an ending, and then the journey is what I discover as I write.
That being said, I actually enjoyed the entire book, from beginning to ending. King takes a difficult situation–a force field Dome over a small New England town–and shows how humans can turn a bad situation into a cataclysmic one. The book features a large cast of characters and how human weakness can have a large impact on everyone around them. Some of the themes that are dealt with in the book include bullying, drug addiction, the environment and natural resources, and corruption in government. Religion is also prominently featured as an underlying current, fueling both acts of courage as well as being the excuse for pure evil.
I like that the characters in this book in that they’re all flawed humans. Many die who deserve to, but many also die who don’t really deserve it, which I actually found refreshing. Sometimes life isn’t fair and the innocent die. Some who have sinned in the past are able to learn from their experiences and overcome them. Others try but make rash decisions and end up paying the ultimate price. I especially liked the contrast of one character fighting her addition against another falling into addiction. There were some nice contrasts, almost like reflections.
The book is packed with tension, action, and thrills–it took me only a week and a half to read, and I actually abandoned the other books I was reading to finish it, which rarely happens for me. One thing I have to say about Stephen King is that he is a master storyteller. You may not like the kinds of stories that he tells, but he tells them well. They pull the reader in. This is a disturbing book on many levels in the way it explores human (and nonhuman) cruelty, our limited resources, and the small-mindedness of too many people. One last ironic note–we’re all in a Dome, if you think about it. It’s not like we can grab additional water or air from outer space. Not yet, anyway.
On a scale of 5, I’d give this a 4.5 stars, just below what are my favorite King novels, The Stand and Dead Zone.