Friday, August 23, 2013

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Title: Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 1074
Rating 4/5 Stars

Excellent.  Ready for the series now.

Stephen King never disappoints me. Whenever I see that he's put out a new book, I immediately put it on my TBR list - where it usually sits for a really, really long time before I get around to reading it. No matter how long that takes, however, I always enjoy.

What gets me every time with King is his world building and his use of language. He's just a master. For days after I finished Under the Dome I found myself wishing that I could return to Chester's Mill and find out more about the people living there. As much as I looked forward to finding out what caused the dome and how those trapped would get out of it, I just wanted the story to keep going. While I find something to enjoy in every book that I read, it's not often that the characters and setting of a book stay with me and leave me really yearning for more. It's a true bittersweet joy when that happens.

The plot of Under the Dome is pretty straightforward - a mysterious, clear dome suddenly appears over the town of Chester's Mill, trapping most of the town's population inside. Nothing and no one is able to so much as scratch the surface of it and therein lies the story. What happens when a small town is literally cut off from the outside world?

In a word? Chaos.

Under the Dome has many 'main' characters, many heroes and villains, but Dale "Barbie" Barbara would be who I consider the main protagonist. Right from the first page, King infuses the novel with a sense of impending doom and suspense, not just for the citizens of Chester's Mill, but for Barbie in particular. As someone new to town, he's considered an outsider by all and as a result, subject to the whims of an increasingly panicked populace. Through Barbie's eyes we meet the residents of Chester's Mill, gradually getting into their heads and perspectives as the ominous forces working within and without the dome converge.

Under the Dome is a story that could only work within a small town, where everyone knows everyone and secrets are just barely concealed. King uses his environment to superb ends as the population splits into opposing factions and everyone seems to be operating under their own agenda. Even those who don't want to take sides inevitably end up on one. Some of the best and most infuriating elements of this book came from King's exploration of how small down dynamics unfold.

As much as I'd love to recap the entire plot and characters, I could never do it justice. Suffice it to say that Under the Dome has all of King's traditional storytelling elements - a grand, sweeping plot, supernatural/otherworldly influences, complex, real characters that are both good and bad (although some are pretty damn bad), suspense, horror, a little's all there. His attention to detail is superb, his prose vivid and his dialogue engaging.

I just really loved this book, okay? You should read it.

I read a little about some controversy surrounding the end of the book - basically just that there was some and having finished it, I'm really not sure why. I thought it was a satisfying ending, although I'll admit a part of me felt that he could have continued the action. There's a huge event in the last two hundred pages or so that brings the problems of the Dome rushing to a head and I wouldn't have minded a slower descent into utter chaos.

Of course, if you want a slower version of what happens to Chester's Mill under the dome, check out the tv series because imo, it's equally awesome.

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