Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review - Stephen King's Under the Dome

Under the Dome by Stephen King
Published by: Scribner
Publication Date: November 10th, 2009
Format: Kindle, 1092 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy

One fall day a dome mysteriously appears around the town of Chester's Mill, Maine. No one knows how or why. Over the preceding week tensions rise and the death toll mounts. Jim Rennie, the local second selectman with a Napoleon complex has spent his life constrained somewhat by the laws of the United States. It hasn't stopped him creating the biggest Meth empire in all of North America, but it has stopped him instituting martial law and making himself the town's benevolent dictator. The arrival of the dome is a dream come true. With his megalomania unconstrained, he orchestrates the events in Chester's Mill like a gifted composer. With Rennie working against the rest of the town trying and praying to be released, will the situation stay firmly under his control, or will his sins come to claim his so that he will be eating at the Lord's table by dinnertime?

Back in 2009 when this book came out I was super excited. I had just gotten a Kindle for my birthday back in August and I viewed this book as made for my Kindle. I mean, the book is over a thousand pages and could easily kill someone, even in paperback form. So a Kindle purchase it was. And there it sat. It's easier to neglect books on your Kindle then on your bookshelves because they aren't staring at you every day. It sat as a little electronic file in a little folder that says "Stephen King" that, as time went on, got pushed further and further back because of my Kindle's ludicrous need to keep files in order of when they were last opened verses the logical alphabet! Also, you know what, while I like that the Kindle has ease and access to out of print books, it just somehow has never drawn me in as much as a real book.

Flash forward to 2013 and summer's hottest new TV series, Under the Dome. Yep, before I even got to reading it it has become a TV series. I have always loved Stephen King TV series and special television events. They are tacky and over the top and above all fun in that guilty TV viewing way. So, seeing as I had a feeling I wouldn't pick up the book in the near future I started watching the show and got hooked. It's never going to be a favorite show or even one I will necessarily ever watch again, but, it is fun. When I heard it was picked up for a second season I realized that, what was fun and over the top, would leave me hanging and therefore invariably piss me off. I had read enough about the show and Stephen King's involvement to know that the show was going to drastically vary from the book, all with Stephen King's blessing, but knowing that it was to go beyond this summer I felt I needed some closure. I knew the book is a different ending so I figured, what the hell, I'll pick it up, finally, get some closure but not be spoiled at the same time. It was win win in my mind. And so I read the book, all thousand plus pages of it, and now I'm left with an odd sensation. The book didn't give me any closure and now I'm more pissed then ever that the show won't end this year.

The first thing I would like to say that this book taught me is that I would not survive under the dome. I don't keep enough food stockpiled. I have no weapons, no generator, no propane or batteries... I would be one of the first to die. But seeing as the death rate was insanely high in this book at least I would be one of the many not one of the few. Previous to this King book I had only read two of his other works, Misery and The Shining. Both these books have small, intimate casts with people isolated from society. The other end of the spectrum is books like Under the Dome and The Stand, which was a favorite miniseries of mine due to Corin "Parker Lewis" Nemec and Molly Ringwald, I mean seriously, the John Hughes girl all grown up and in a Stephen King miniseries, how could you not love this tack? Watching and reading are two different things though and the cast of Under the Dome was so large I just knew vaguely who they were, there were the "bad cops" and the "good cops," who can remember their names, I didn't, and then people in general categories based on where they usually where, like the "hospital people" and the "newspaper people." Also, when you have this many people, having a Ginny and a Gina both and the hospital, thank you Stephen King for giving me a headache. Add to that the fact that even the good guys were pretty unlikable, and well, who am I rooting for? Because personally, I think just having Junior Rennie and his posse (which is so Malfoy's posse from Slytherin) set loose on the town would have been funny and ended the book a lot earlier.

But let me get to the crux of my problem with the book, which wasn't the overtly hypocritical religiosity or the fact that I think the dome should have isolated them more like on the television show. I shall warn you that right now I'm going to give away the ending, because, let's face it, I was able to guess the ending five minutes in and it's not that shocking. Yes folks, it's aliens! Why? We don't know. This is a total cop out. At least explain something about it more then, "oh, they thought we were ants and it would be fun." Excuse me? They did it because they could? Well at least tell me more about the dome's properties? Like was the dome causing all these people to commit suicide? Because some of the animals were and, well, we are animals, so was that something the dome did or was it just based on people taking the easy way out? Explain! Also, you know, we've spent, a thousand pages with these people, maybe a few lines of how they handled life after they got out of the dome please? Now that you killed Benny did Joe and Norrie get together because she no longer had to choose? Anything Stephen, anything? Nope... ok. Guess I'll go sit in a fug over here. And by the way, having Jack Reacher show up was lame and a Lost reference, really? You should be better then this Stephen King.


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