Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tome Tuesday #6 - Under The Dome

I know what you're saying...

"I thought you gave up on this, Mimi!"

Well I didn't. I was just busy. Stop harassing me, JEEZ.


Under the Dome, by Stephen King.

Let me preface this by saying I LOVE Stephen King.

I am a dedicated Constant Reader. I am a confessed Tower Junkie. I know the location of the Unfound Door, the many names of Randall Flagg, and the significance of the number 19. I can have involved conversations about the deeper meaning of his best works, can tell you his answer to the question "where do you get your ideas", and I even know the name of a few of the "gentleman's magazines" he first published in back in the beginning (one is "Adam", which just makes me giggle).

I am a FAN.

So when I say that this wasn't one of my favorites, please realize that it comes from a place of understanding of where he's at in his life, and not a place of simple dislike.

The thing about King is that since his accident he's been... well, "cruelly realistic" is the best term I can come up with. I think, and really this is just my opinion, that since having faced his own mortality so intensely in the past 10 years, King has really become more realism-happy in his fiction.

I get that, in real life, shitty things happen and people die needlessly, but there used to be allowances made for things like dogs and kids in his work. I'm just saying. Maybe it has to do with being older than I was when I used to read his stuff as a teen. I'm less in my own little bubble, and my life experiences are more advanced; when I used to read about the people who died in 'Salem's Lot, it was with dread, but it didn't really affect me because they were fictional characters. Now I find I can't really enjoy the fiction of it, because I see the reality so often. If I'm choosing to be entertained I want to *escape* from those sorts of things by reading or watching something fictional where things turn out all right, or at least justly, in the end; when my entertainment is just mirroring the real world, it's not really taking me in all the way.

Other than that basic problem with real-life, not-so-happy-ending elements in fiction, which is the only reason I didn't care for this book as much as I might have, Under The Dome had all the elements I desire in a good King tome. It had a quick pace, vast length, multiple plots involving umpteen characters, more exposition than you can shake a stick at... all the things a Constant Reader craves in his best work.

The story starts out with a bang; the Dome drops with no warning on what is subsequently referred to by the residents of the town as Dome Day. Anyone inside the perimeter of the town of Chester's Mill, Maine (which is, I have to say as a Constant Reader, is just a stone's throw from Castle Rock) is trapped with their only power being from various generators throughout the town.

Among those left are a tyrannical town selectmen with a lot of fish to fry (Big Jim Rennie, a truly spectacular specimen of a Big Bad) and an ex-military short order cook who's on his way out of town after a bit of trouble (Dale "Barbie" Barbara). They each quickly take their places as the leads of what end up being the two factions in the town.

This is the meat of the story, the look at what would happen if you trapped a town full of people with minimal resources and no way out. Who would them most likely follow, and why? Would they give up quickly, or fight to the end? Would they work together, or look out for number one?

In the end, I would say I enjoyed the book a lot, it was classic Stephen King fare, but I do wish he'd lighten up a little.

Just a little.

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