Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Under the Dome by Stephen King: Book Review

Written by Loraine Alkire
I've read many but not all of Stephen King's novels and I would have to say this is one of his greatest works, yet. According to the Author's Notes; he first began this novel in 1976 but you would never know it- as he has brought it into the present so seamlessly. Admittedly he claims to have been overwhelmed by the large cast of characters, including three dogs. There are too many characters to name but he mentions about 71 one of them in the beginning of this 1,074 page book. All but three pages kept me riveted for days, grabbing the book as often as I could- to read slowly, gathering in all the nuances that I've come to relish in his books.

The book takes place in Chester's Mill, Maine- Where life is slower than not and the people are as ordinary as they come. It is made up of hard working people and the not so hard working: farmers, store owners, tweakers, busboys, children, teachers, parents, police, and one dentist. The mill is closed as is the town's only movie theater. There's a small town newspaper, a couple of honky-tonks - two churches and a few stores. It's composed of smart, ignorant, bitter-sweet people- Mostly republican, though some are liberal and it doesn't really matter because the dividing line of good versus evil does not take place there.

But that's the genius of Stephen King, just writing about ordinary characters, with all their human strength and weakness while enveloping you in their lives- just as some catastrophic event brings out their true character. Suddenly, you find yourself concerned for the wellbeing of an 84 year old woman, wondering how her back is doing after not reading about her for a couple of chapters. Last you can recall she was resting her bottom inside an inflatable donut, left behind by her dead husband. It's not merely the villains or heroes that entertain you, but the less than average person that struggles or triumphs in her way through out the depth and breathe of another ingenious catastrophic event that binds and seals the book and the fate of those within.

Mr. King speaks of the God fearing and the unbeliever, the people who would have God as nothing but a puppet to make excuses for greed, power and even murder. The pastor who is no longer sure that God exists but still prays daily to someone called" Not There" her heart still hoping that she is wrong and so she prays through disbelief, asking for guidance. This is a Christian town, this is a town bred on good values, where most of the people, with all their short comings are primarily good, even though many have been led down a path to follow a self-righteous town leader- with a private agenda in the name of God. Others are just ignorant bullies looking for a chance. The chance comes by way of a dome that envelopes the town along its very borders and there it stays, while people chose up sides and the outside world with all it's scientists and military fall helpless to watch the ensuing chaos, the people of the town becoming no more than fish fighting in a clear bowl as the dead float to the top.

This is a gruesome book, the main villain so blasphamed, that I believe Stephen King himself could not come up with a perfect way for him to meet his due; to reap the wrath that he had sewn. This is a vague review, but I encourage you to read the book and paraphrasing the book that further paraphrases the Bible, [though you see but through a glass darkly you know in part (because of this review); but then face to [page] you shall know that this is one cool book. [Not as cool as the Bible] but well worth reading.

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