I have tried to read many Stephen King books. I have finished three; one was a collection of short stories, one was 11/22/63 and the most recent is Under the Dome. I decided to read the most recent one because CBS is airing a 13 week miniseries based on the book this summer and I do like to read books before I watch them on one type of screen or another.
Someone had explained the idea of Under the Dome to me before and I was a little hesitant to read the book. 1072 pages about a small town in Maine trapped under a transparent dome? Seemed a little sketchy and, shall we say, long-winded.
Boy, was I wrong.
The dome encompasses Chester’s Mills and the surrounding suburbs. Chester’s Mills is home to the most interesting cast of characters you could want in a book. One thing that makes them interesting is how everyday they are. Sleazy used car salesmen, slightly crooked cops, drunken troublemakers, pillars of faith who probably aren’t so infallible, young people who would really rather be anywhere else, slightly more than crooked politicians, doctors just trying to get by… Chester’s Mills is Everytown.
But the Dome let’s the reader do as the force behind the Dome does and examine these would-be ordinary creatures in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Then you end up wondering how extraordinary the circumstances are. Food and fuel rationing would be the norm, would they not? We take that for granted. But looking into the Dome, we see how we might react to those things. And it isn’t always pretty.
The cast of characters in Under the Dome is, in a word, huge. I almost flounced the book when I saw the three page list of who is who in Chester’s Mills.
I am so glad I didn’t.
Some of the characters are absolutely detestable, and yet I understood their motivations. None of the characters are absolutely faultless, and that made the story better. All of the characters made me want to keep reading to find out what happens to them next, and that is key to the story.
Even the dogs, especially Horace the Corgi, add something to the overall arc of the story.
In the end, Under the Dome is too good because it’s too real, too much of a possible reality. A reality I very much do not want to be a part of.
Except on pages and on screen…