Brenda's Reviews > Under the Dome

Under the Dome by Stephen King
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Feb 21, 11

bookshelves: 2011-reads, action-packed, paranormal-crazy, throw-in-the-kithen-sink, science-fiction
Recommended to Brenda by: Andrea
Read from February 05 to 20, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Reading another Stephen King novel after so many years is like bumping into an old friend. I was so excited to crack open the cover and the first few chapters drew me in like a warm hug. King is a master of prose. There is no question about that. As I ripped through the pages, I never stopped to think about sentence structure or verbiage. Never once thought about two dimensional characters. King can make real people in surreal situations. His research on the topics which came up in this book are mind boggling and the continued sense of dread that "This is not as bad as it gets" kept me coming back for more.

Then as our friendship settled back into the old comfortable patterns, I am reminded why we lost touch after all these years. This story is essentially The Stand on a much smaller scale and many of his oddities which made me uncomfortable back then are still alive and well today. The forming of good versus evil sides, the large ensemble cast, the crescendo of the last stand, and the odd placement of bizarre chance situations. It was all very familiar. Some of it in a good way and some still didn't feel right.

The one thing that kept bugging me throughout this book, was the lack of togetherness. In a crisis, people bond. They also demand to make things happen in a way that never came about in this book. It's true that many people are like (choose your own livestock metaphor) and can be corralled. I kept waiting for the angry mob to show up on city hall's front steps demanding from their government to make changes, form an action plan, or DO SOMETHING! It never came. The government shuts down the supermarket and an angry mob breaks out, but no one thought to ask the politicians why? They never marched to the steps and demanded their rights? They never wanted to pool their resources and look for short and long term resolutions? It all seemed a little too neat for Rennie. Yes, he had obstacles, but the people of the town would want to see their government in action and doing something for them in order to sit back and be compliant. Two days of shock is about all I can see for keeping the mob at large in check. And you better believe that once the generators run out and the food begins to spoil, the crowd would be out and making demands, no matter if there are thugs or not.

I see the references to WWII and Hitler youth, but that took decades and a different culture to grow the climate which took place in Germany. I get the government without accountability bit. A lawless land where the thugs can reign supreme. I also see how a corrupt government with their hands in drug money could easily slip into a dictatorship. But a panicked and desperate people who feel entitlement and are used to getting their needs met are not going to be placated so easily. Perhaps if this took place over a month or two it could happen that way but less than a week? Granted, I am talking about a story where a dome crashes down because a bunch of extra terrestrial brats need entertainment, so plausibility is moot. Still, it would have been interesting to see Rennie try to deal with an external pressure of "the people" and struggle a bit more in his attempt to retain top dog status.

Also, edit it down a bit, Steve. The story began to lag somewhere around 700 or 800 and lost some momentum as I was waiting for more time to pass. The magnified play-by-play of events was extreme and felt a tad indulgent. Yes, there is more of an impact when the old lady dies in the fireball, but do we really need to know so much about her? Maybe, maybe not. This is a personal taste issue. I would have preferred to lose her and a few others in favor of a faster pace. Sacrifices are not just killing people in print.

One thing I think was an improvement over his past work was a direct tie-in for the theme of the story. The idea of bullies and accountability is very relevant not only to each character, but also very timely in current events. The theme was woven into the story with a subtle hand and not bashed over our heads. I also like how there never really is a explanation of The Dome itself. The Dome just is. The alien children just are. Too many authors make the mistake of putting effort into who and what, where King knew the real story was with the people under The Dome, the ants.

Another strength was keeping the time line consistent. I can imagine how difficult it must be to keep a story like this in check and with such a fine detail of the overall picture. Each perspective was focused and kept to the story. King has learned how to keep the whip to his characters and not allow them to run rampant as much as they once did. This shows, more than anything else in his novel, how much he has matured in his craft.

As always, I am impressed with his ability to kill off or do horrible things to likable and beautifully flawed characters. It's much harder to do than killing or doing horrible things to beautifully flawed villains. King has some serious writer balls in this area which I always admire, even if I skip over some of it because I am more of a wimp than I used to be. Perhaps it comes from his horror background but he can kill a defenseless mother and child like nobody's business. Not to mention killing off an entire town in a fantastic fireball. It's clear that when he is watching people in a crowd, scenarios of blood sport are running through his writer's mind. Blood thirsty authors are twisted, but they know how to create drama and keep the reader guessing right up to the bitter end.

Under the Dome was a good read, and well worth the effort to finish this tome. Sure I may pick something up in the future, but I'm in no hurry to do so right now. I think my chance encounter with this old friend will not rekindle our old relationship, nor will we hang out the way we once did.

It was so nice seeing you after all this time, but let's not make promises we don't intent to keep. Until we meet again!
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