Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Under The Dome by Stephen King

Hardcover 1072 pages

Science Fiction



On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens — town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing — even murder — to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.

My Take:

Despite the length, this book is a fast and easy read. It made me wish I owned a kindle or a nook, the book was heavy! This is not your typical Stephen King novel, there is no bogeyman hiding in the closet or beneath the bed that will cause you to keep your bedroom light on for weeks after finishing it. I classify this as a rehashing of his blockbuster 1978 novel The Stand. Instead of a superflu that kills almost the entire planet, you have one small Maine town cut off from the world by an invisible globe that perfectly follows the town's boundary. It is your classic good guy versus bad guy plot. In this case it is the concerned citizens (the good guys) versus the town's politicians (the bad guys). The corrupt politician's don't believe in letting a crisis go to waste (sounds familiar) decide to force their own agenda on the town by manufacturing and arranging further calamitous events. (Again, does this sound familiar?)

King grew up in a small Maine town, but he seems to have lost his feel for what it is like living in a small Maine town. I have lived in a small Maine town nearly my entire life. Unlike the fictional Chester's Mill, my town does not have a full time police force. We couldn't afford one even if we needed one. Our police protection comes from the state and county. Nor do we have our own hospital. We don't even have a small clinic. Only the big cities like Lewiston, Augusta, Bangor, and Portland have hospitals. Some of the smaller cities up north will have a hospital, but no town in Maine with a population under 2500 would have one. It is a stretch to give Chester's Mill a police department, and a hospital, but both are vital to the plot.

The end was a little weak as well. After investing time in a nearly 1100 page book, I expected a more imaginative ending. I wasn't dissatisfied with the ending, a little disappointed perhaps, but it seemed like he wasn't sure how to end it and took the easy way out.

Overall, a good read. I think all King fans will enjoy this one. I give it a 6.5

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