Under the Dome
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an interest in things that go bump in the night–the unknown and the unexplainable. So, it was only natural that I would discover Stephen King. I’ve only read a quarter of the eighty or so books he has written, but I’ve always considered myself a King fan. One of my favorite books is The Stand, written in 1978 under the classification of what I consider to be “classic King” (pre-car accident and pre-Tommyknockers).
When I discovered Under the Dome was coming out, and that it was over 1,000 pages long, I looked forward to an epic with a good story and strong, interesting female characters. I wasn’t disappointed. Yet be forewarned: this isn’t classic King, but it’s one hell of a read.
King lives in Maine, so many of his stories center around a small town in the state with many “issues.” [Under the Dome[(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1439148503?ie=UTF8&tag=feminrevie-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1439148503) begins when Chester Mills finds itself literally under a dome. (Imagine being trapped in one of those snow shakers, and you will understand the desperation that begins to implode within the town.) King is a pro at describing how people slowly become unglued in the midst of a crisis or disaster. Yes, you can sense the exaggeration, but you also feel a certain eeriness when you realize someone could act that way if pushed to his or her moral and emotional limits. King's work can be quite graphic, but that didn’t stop me from reading.
The basic story hearkens of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I thought King’s inspiration must have been the hellish nightmare that was the Superdome where many residents of New Orleans tried to escape from the floods. I was surprised to learn King actually started writing this book back in the '70s. The actual dome is quite interesting, particularly when it begins to get dirty and the sky looks like something you's see through foggy glasses. The stars, weather, and the water are all affected by being trapped inside this insular shape.
King is a master at crafting evil characters, the slimiest and most disgusting people you would never care to meet. In this story, we get to spend many pages with Jim Rennie, the Second Selectman of Chester Mills whose every action is justified by being for the “good of the town.” The dome is probably the best thing to happen to the Selectman, and he uses every opportunity to move things in his morbid and sordid direction.
I was pleased that Under the Dome has several strong female leads. One is Julia Shumway, the editor of the town newspaper. The town is cut off from the rest of the world, but Shumway risks her life to ensure that the news gets out daily to the people of Chester Mills.
Although one wonders what the dome is, how it got there, and if it would ever disappear as magically as it appeared, the unrest of the townspeople is the real story in Under the Dome. The lengthy narrative takes place over a short period of time, starting off strong and not letting you come up for breath until the very end. If you dare take the risk, it’s a great read.