Under the Dome

Monday, August 9, 2010

Under the Dome
Stephen King, 2009


Under the Dome was mostly your basic modern Stephen King.  Rag-tag protagonists, including the wandering hero and the smart kid, some bat-shit crazy, just-barely-realistic-enough-to-be-scary antagonists, sense of creeping doom, scenes of shocking brutality and visceral descriptions of unpleasant things: check check and doublecheck.  The sci-fi aspects seemed mostly peripheral to the plot, and the climax wasn't all that special, it didn't really stay with me.  The theme was well carried through, but not as interesting as it wishes it were.  The beginning was well done, but only echoes of the sheer awesome that is the beginning of The Strand.  Overall I found it a bit too long for its premise. 

The length is only a problem for me because some Stephen King books I need to read all in one sitting if possible, because if I don't, as was the case here, I risk nightmares.  Like almost all of his stuff, it's eminently readable, flows well, etc. I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Mr. King's work.  I like reading it, but sometimes it sticks with me longer than I'm comfortable with.  Especially when he bucks his own instinct to keep things fundamentally optimistic.  This book had a slight problem with that, but not as bad as some I've read. 

Also I was more interested in the physics of the Dome environment than in the super-fast degradation of society.  Not because it necessarily rang too false, but because it was dependent on a certain level of crazy and corruption preexisting in the town.  You could make the case that most any small town has its secret megalomaniacs, but the worst-case scenario explored here is less interesting to me than the idea of normally sane, kind people going off the deep end, which I felt wasn't explored enough.  Also the beings who set the Dome didn't seem to have any reason to have picked this town.  In other words, they didn't choose it specifically for its opportunities for catastrophe, so that's just a coincidence, and a fairly irritating one.

2 Stars - An Okay Book

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