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Book Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King February 1, 2010

Posted by frostwolftfirerose in Fiction.
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Well, this is a first.  I actually got teary-eyed with a Stephen King–will wonders never cease?

First the negatives.  The book is packaged in a way that seems environmentally unfriendly.  There’s a lot of white space, and I wonder what went into making the decision for that.  Because the book only took me about 6 days to read (after work, on lunch hour, etc.), I am pretty sure that it could have been packaged much differently, and do hope that the paperback will be.  It affects how I read a book to see how it’s packaged, and I did feel a bit perplexed and disturbed about the wastage that went into its manufacture.

Also, I felt the primary antagonist is a bit too broadly written.  Screams “BAD GUY HERE, TARGET ON BACK” from the first time we met him.  Having said that, the characters around the main-tagonist, as well as the book’s protagonists are well-drawn.  I could see myself meeting most of these folks on the street.

Those are my only two negatives on the book.  Mostly, I found it an easy read, and one that kept me going.  Of course, SK is a master of the compulsive read, right up there with J. K. Rowling and others.  No heavy sledding here.  And I like the omniscient narrator even going into the mind of a woodchuck who gets bisected in the first 10 pages.  Woweth.

The book recapitulates The Lord of the Flies by W. Golding, only for people who have allegedly outgrown elementary school.  As I read the book, I felt like the characters were as if under a glass, like a grasshopper or ladybug caught by a child and sealed in a jar with some airholes.  Maybe a little flora to help the critter “feel at home.”  In terms of SK’s other work, I must confess to not having read much since Needful Things.  I think that was the last one of his I read.  There was much thematically that overlapped.  Of course it brought to mind The Stand, particularly toward the end of the book.

I appreciated also that the book brought together the scientific and the mystical.  We don’t really find out the origin of the Dome that is created around Chester’s Mill, though we get a glimmer of that source via a mystic device.  (NOTE: I’m not putting spoilers in here–I like it when people comment who are in the midst of the book as well as those who’ve finished it.)

I read this book because of people on lifeaftertheoilcrash.com’s forum website doomers.us were writing about the book, and it made me curious.  I wanted to see how it stacked up with J.H. Kunstler’s World Made By Hand and other “doomer” fiction.  It’s not really fair to compare the two, so I won’t.  Each has its strengths and its distractions.  With Kunstler, I appreciated his point-of-view though I couldn’t identify with it.  Leaves out too much to be useful IMHO.  (People of color, gays and lesbians, pagans, street people–these peoples are going to be molto importante when TSHTF.  Just a tad too middle class for me, and a bit anti-urban which is unfortunate.)  King’s story goes for the more universal themes and it brings in the Golding and other sorts of observations.  There is an urgency in it that I perceived as well, and that also fueled the book to its conclusion.

If you’re like me and hate lugging around a huge book like this one, I would wait until it comes out in paperback.  (It’s good, but not so good that you should throw your back out.)  Very good for passing the time.

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