I haven’t read a Stephen King book since high school, when I had a summer job that afforded me a lot of time to read. That summer was filled with King, John Saul, Dean Koontz, and others. I worked at a state park, and the stormy days were my favorite times to read horror.
I’m not actually sure what prompted me to pick up Under the Dome. It’s a long read, my electronic version came in around 850 pages. I’d not heard anything about the novel before I picked it up. It was an impulse purchase based on an Amazon recommendation, and I just went with it.
Brief synopsis: The small Maine town of Chester’s Mill finds itself literally cut off from the rest of the world when a semi-permeable, invisible barrier drops down around them. Several residents lose their lives immediately, other deaths follow quickly. The Second Selectman (a New England brand of town official), Big Jim Rennie, a corrupt used car salesman, drug dealer and politician quickly takes advantage of the situation to grasp control of the town. An Iraq war veteran, Dale “Barbie” Barbara, who was on his way out of town when the Dome dropped, quickly finds himself in an unwanted position of power opposing Big Jim and the rest of the corrupt local government. Big Jim and Barbie, and their respective factions, butt heads on a epic scale and the drama unfolds as the people of Chester’s Mill struggle to survive under deteriorating conditions.
Under the Dome is an editorial on American politics and environmentalism. King makes his views of past and current political figures quite clear. Since I’m pretty closely aligned with King’s own opinions, I enjoyed recognizing the parallels drawn between the bullies and the good guys, but for a work of fiction, I found most of the characters fell too neatly into the stereotypes. The lines of good and evil are very sharp, and I found that most characters lacked complexity. Most of them were so far in one direction or the other that I disliked almost all of them, even those I should have related to.
I honestly kept reading just to see some of the characters that I despised get their comeuppance, and the deaths of the worst offenders were not hideous enough to satisfy me. I’m not sure I can recommend this book, based on it’s length. I spent a lot of time reading about characters I couldn’t stand. If you’re someone who really enjoys watching the GOP get shafted, and revels in the blatant use of stereotypes, you’ll enjoy Under the Dome.