|'Under the Tome'|
Mr. King's 1000-page
Let's see... I started this last year, before Christmas, somewhere. There was snow... ice... presents... and one of them was Stephen King's latest 1000-page page-turner 'Under the Dome'. Although I was recently disappointed by his 700-page snooze-fest Duma Key, I was very excited when my sister-in-law got me this. I loved the premise from the first moment I heard about it and with the Simpsons-movie still in my mind, I couldn't help wondering what a Serious Writer would make of it.
The story opens with a nice description of how the villagers of Chester's Mill are getting trapped under an immense dome. Nobody knows what it is, nobody knows where it came from or why its here. Dale Barbara ('Barbie') is a retired lieutenant from the US Army who quickly becomes an outlaw for the ad-hoc town government led by 'Big Jim' Rennie. Pretty soon, the town gets divided into two camps with Big Jim turning into a cold and calculating dictator and Barbie becoming an icon of a guerrilla-movement within the town. With the people all the while either trying to find out what is going on or trying to lead their normal lives.
From the first page onwards I knew this was going to be a modern classic. Epic, apocalyptic and harsh. Before the first chapter is over about 20 people bought the farm already and the tone is set. It doesn't let up after that. There's this evil government led by a second-hand car dealer who has his rules enforced by a couple of high-school bullies. There's environmental issues as there is no more wind or water coming into the village. As always, there are people psyche's either going this way or that. There's a meth-lab with a mysterious junkie called 'The Chef'. And to top everything off there's a budding psychopath on the loose. JUST FOR GOOD MEASURE.
An epic yarn like this could easily loose itself in mindless banter about the environment, paying for past mistakes, a government conspiracy or some other drag, but that's only if you're not Stephen King. Although the story has about 10 main characters and 20 or more less important characters, the focus of the story is clear: WHAT IS THE DOME, WHY IS IT HERE, and how THE HELL are we going to stop this rampaging dictator? And luckily, Mr. King doesn't loose sight of this, ever.
There are weak points in the story, but to point them out would be nit-picking. Basically Stephen King has avoiding all the pitfalls that could have doomed this book to a cult-status. With the multiple story lines, the immense amount of characters and the simple premise which could easily been shot full of holes, he carefully works with it and stays in charge of the story. There is nothing that can be said about, except HE'S SIMPLY DONE IT AGAIN!
I have been reconfirmed exactly why Mr. King is one of my favorite authors.