Becky’s Ninety-Fifth Book Review: “Under the Dome” by Stephen King

Any Stephen King fan will tell you that some of his works are better than others. This is true of any author and especially true of an author with more than fifty worldwide bestsellers. I never read Stephen King when I was younger, I didn’t think I would enjoy his writing. On the one hand, I’m frustrated with myself for taking so long to discover how amazing Stephen King’s writing can be and on the other hand — because I waited so long, I never have to wait for a new novel to come out. There are still so many of his books that I haven’t read. At the moment, it is a blessing. There are various reason that I will decide to read one book over another, the reason that “Under the Dome” got moved to the top of the ‘to-read’ pile is because of it becoming a miniseries.

It took me less than a week to read “Under the Dome”. It was lucky for me that I started the book towards the end of the week. It may have been 1074 pgs, but I could not put the book down. One of the quotes on the back cover of the book states, “Stephen King ‘Returns to his Glory Days of The Stand’ (New York Daily News) with his new #1 bestselling epic”. This is an extremely accurate assessment in my opinion. I read “The Stand” for the first time not all that long ago, but I could tell while reading it that it was definitely one of Stephen King’s better works. I had the same feeling while reading “Under the Dome”.

One of the things that Stephen King does well is write about small towns. In “Under the Dome” the story focuses on Chester’s Mill, Maine where one fall day the entire town is sealed off from the rest of the world. It happens so suddenly that a groundhog is severed, birds crash into the invisible wall along with cars, people lose appendages, a plane crashes…no one knows what is going on but people understand enough to start panicking. And panic they do. A very short period of time passes — just a few days — and people start killing themselves. The milk hasn’t even gone bad yet and there are those who have already given up hope. Those living under the dome fall very quickly into a completely different world. Some people step up as heroes. Some as villains.

At the beginning of “Under the Dome” there is a map and a list of some of (but not all) the people trapped inside on what would become known as ‘dome day’. Many become key, but those worth mentioning now are Jim Rennie or “Big Jim”, Dale “Barbie” Barbara, Rose Twitchell, Junior Rennie, Reverend Lester Coggins, Reverend Piper Libby, Rusty Everett, Joe McClatchey, Brenda Perkins, Julia Shumway and there are three ‘dogs of note’ Horace, Clover, and Audrey. I mention the dogs because I love dogs and they do play important roles in the book. The two main characters would be Big Jim Rennie and Dale “Barbie” Barbara. Big Jim is the town’s second selectman and the one pulling the strings in the background on all sorts of shady things going on in this small town. Barbie is new to the town and was on his way out when the dome closed  and trapped him inside it. Part of the reason that Barbie was leaving town was because Big Jim had it out for him. Once the dome closes, Big Jim sees this as the perfect opportunity to take the small town he already mostly runs and turn it into a police state where all the cops are kids that he approved and the rules are whatever he decides to make them. The electric might be out because of the sudden appearance of the dome, but there is plenty propane in the town to tide them over. The only trouble is that almost all the propane has been ‘borrowed’ (after all, meth doesn’t cook itself) and so places that really need the power, like the hospital, are forced to work without. In just a few short days the small town transforms from one where you could leave your door unlocked to one where you no longer had constitutional rights and orders that came directly from the oval office weren’t obeyed. There were those inside the dome and those outside the dome.

Part of what made reading “Under the Dome” so addictive is the fact that what Stephen King writes holds an element of truth to it. I doubt very much that a ‘dome’ situation would arise in the near future, but the fact of the matter is that there are those who see a tragedy as an opportunity. There always have been and always will be. Just think about those who saw WWII and the holocaust as an opportunity to get rich quick. So “Under the Dome” has that element of truth to it that just makes a person stop and think and wonder. What would I be like if I was trapped in a situation like that? Would I be the hero? Would I be the villain? Would I be the girl standing around and screaming for help that wouldn’t come? It makes a person think. That is one of the things that I really like about Stephen King’s novels. Yes, they are fiction, but they hold a certain amount of truth to them that just makes reading them all the more addictive.

Would I recommend “Under the Dome”? Most definitely–especially to those die-hard Stephen King fans. I don’t think that those who stay away from reading Stephen King most of the time would like this book as much as I think they would like “11/22/63”. But his novel does bring up some interesting questions. Excellent read. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me hold my breath in anticipation. “Under the Dome” is a must-read for Stephen King fans everywhere. I cannot wait for my little brother to read it so we can talk about it!!

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