Genre Audio Book Publisher Scribner Year Published 2009 Review Posted on 5/25/2013 Reviewer Rating
6 out of 10
Under the Dome, by Stephen King
Reviewed by Joshua Palmatier
If you've read this book, why not
I have to say I really enjoyed Under the Dome. It had all of the elements of a Stephen King novel that I love--lots of characters, people to root for, people to hate, an interesting set-up, and of course a horrific conclusion.
The basic premise behind the book is that the little town of Chester's Mill, Maine (of course) is suddenly and inexplicably placed under an invisible (at first) and seemingly indestructible dome. Air and water can pass through it somewhat, but for the most part the townspeople are cut off from outside help and are forced to rely on their own resources in order to survive. Initially, this isn't a problem. The Dome doesn't appear to do anything except cut them off, and so people simply go on living while the government tries to figure out how to save them. But of course, people being people, as all attempts to break the Dome fail, the calm, collected, and rule-abiding society within the Dome begins to come apart and the real monsters (mainly our true selves) begin to come out.
The best part of the book is the unraveling of the well-ordered society and the revealing of the true nature of some of the townspeople as things go from odd to desperate. Stephen King excels at these kinds of stories. And what I love about this book is that--even though the Dome is mysterious and otherworldly--the story is NOT about the Dome, it's about the people trapped inside of it and how they react to it. Some of them retain their humanity and fight to survive. Others allow their base nature, their inner selves that they hide beneath the veneer or everyday life, to come to the fore. The slow degradation of the society, how it inevitably begins to fall apart as resources begin to become scarce and fear sets in, is the true horror of this novel, not the Dome.
I think what's scariest about the book is how real everything is, another aspect that King excels at. Everything that happens in this book (aside from the strangeness of the Dome itself) is totally believable. You can see these people reacting and behaving in this way. And unlike many of the novels out there, simply being a good guy doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to survive. In fact, I think most people reading this book would be shocked at just how many of the good guys don't make it, for various reasons. I know that my limits were pushed in this regard, although even as I felt that pressure I realized that that was the whole point. You're supposed to feel desperate, just like the characters. You're supposed to feel a sense of hopelessness at points. You're supposed to ask, Aren't the good guys going to catch a break? And of course sometimes they do catch that break . . . but sometimes they don't, just like real life.
In the end, I couldn't find any issues with this book at all . . . well, perhaps one. The final explanation for the Dome itself pushed my believability a little. Not much, because the point behind it, King's focus for the book, fits in perfectly with that explanation. I don't want to say anything about what caused the Dome, since that would be a plot spoiler (and I hate those), but if I had to pick out one thing to quibble over, that would be it. But it would be a minor quibble. Because again, the book is not about the Dome. It's about the people trapped inside it.
An excellent book. One of King's best in my opinion, even with that minor quibble. Highly recommended.