Saturday, January 16, 2010

Under the Dome - Stephen King

While I am a huge Stephen King admirer, I usually opt for his short stories in lieu of his incredibly long novels. But, after several Powell's employees named Under the Dome their top pick of 2009, I thought I'd give the 1000+ page book a chance. Under the Dome takes place in the town of Chesterfield, Maine, which one day, without warning, finds itself trapped under an invisible, yet deadly, forcefield. In typical King fashion, hundreds of pages are devoted to exploring the town and its citizens, and giving the reader the complete feeling of what it means to live in a defined space cut off from the rest of the world. To this end, there were times when I felt like I got the point, and that King was spending way too much time standing in one place rather than moving the story forward. But, admittedly, even when it seemed like nothing was happening, the panic and terror of the people of Chesterfield was beginning to take hold in me. In addition to the Lord of the Flies feel of the book, King also uses the dome to explore issues of environmentalism and the town of Chesterfield as a mini-version of our planet as a whole. As the town attempts to keep order, King's portrayal of law enforcement and political figures in the town is a scathing commentary on abuse of power in vulnerable situations (admitedly his characters are a bit 2-dimensional in their all or nothing when it comes to good and evil). After my recent post about reading for plot, Under the Dome was a reminder to me of the power authors have to do more than *just* entertain, but to also make us think critically about who we are and what we're doing. This book is an incredible undertaking - by King as a writer - and by anyone with the time to get all the way through it.

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