Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King

As the book is a couple of years old now, I'm going to be pretty free and easy with spoilers, so this is your warning to skim or skip if you're sensitive to 'em.

I went back and forth on including Under the Dome in the Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Reading Challenge for two different reasons. Firstly, I wasn't sure that it counted as "apocalyptic" when it only affected one town. Secondly, the apocalypse ends before anyone has time to really dig into the nitty-gritty of rebuilding society after it's been destroyed. However, the book does go deeply into the psychological changes that rip through people when they find out that they're suddenly no longer rewarded for being civilized, so what the hell: it's my blog and I'll natter if I want to.

Summary: In October of 2012, the small town of Chester's Mill is abruptly cut off from the outside world by a clear, indestructible dome that defends itself by destroying any electronic devices that come within six feet of it. Former soldier Dale Barbara is on his way out of town when the Dome comes down, trapping him inside with the murderous Junior Rennie and Junior's equally corrupt father, Big Jim. Over the next week, the roughly two thousand residents of "the Mill" find themselves fighting for their town, their humanity, and their lives.

My Thoughts: I read Under the Dome and Cell concurrently, and realized something: they're both examples of King speaking back across the years to the younger self who wrote The Stand. Though I liked Cell a lot, UtD is actually the more fitting response. It's like The Stand in a lot of ways in its large cast and frequent switches between POVs, the perfect drawing of small-town grudges and politics, and the hints of Third Sight. (I even wondered at times if Trashcan Man hadn't fathered a child somewhere along the way who had grown up to become the Chef.) However, while I still liked it, it's also similar to Cell in that King has become increasingly pessimistic as he's gotten older. The Las Vegas crew in The Stand had to sacrifice their lives to defeat Flagg, but they succeeded. Our Heroes in UtD only made it out alive because they begged for their lives and hit a chord of pity in the aliens playing with them. I'm an old-fashioned girl who likes the heroes' sacrifices to mean something even if they leave deep scars behind, so I'm not entirely sure what to make of that.

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