Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Under the Dome: A NovelThere are books that get me fairly upset, enough to keep me in this state for days or even weeks until I vent about what’s bothering me to someone.  Now, you’d think that a book blog is a perfect place to vent. But I have found it’s not necessarily so, mainly because now I am crowded by doubts if I will offend anyone or make people all of a sudden dislike me, so on and so forth. I have been hesitating to write the review for Under the Dome more than ever because I know that this book is liked by majority of readers and I know why I could offend others by disliking the things in it that are the reasons they love this novel so. To make the long story short, my review might be controversial.

Stephen King has written another behemoth. With over 1000 pages, Under the Dome is a story with tons of characters, a lot happening and plotlines to entertain a reader for days. One October day, the town of Chester’s Mill, Maine gets separated from the rest of the world by a mysterious transparent wall. It soon becomes apparent that nothing and no one can get in or out through the wall. It’s called the Dome for a reason too, because that’s precisely the shape of it. Now this little town with big personalities for residents has to fend for itself, with no outside help but also no outside interference. And that means that a scheming selectman Jim Rennie has a free reign and can finally be the ultimate law without consequences. People die, they’re murdered, killed or give up hope and commit suicides. Soon, there will be no more gasoline for the generators and subsequently no more electricity. But the evil reign of Rennie and his “helpers” is not what the residents of Chester’s Mill should fear the most. There is something much more sinister coming their way.

You have no idea how I wanted to read Under the Dome. I was so excited when I got it for Christmas that I thought I would actually fall asleep hugging it. Stephen King is after all one of my all-time favorite writers and Under the Dome was supposed to be a work of art akin to The Stand (which happens to be my most beloved book of his and the golden standard for all dystopian literature). The excitement waned quickly, when I realized that Under the Dome is a crowd pleaser. There, I said it. For the first time ever, Stephen King decided to write a book that would stroke the egos of the majority, instead of coming up with something new, something that’s non-conformist and that eludes the mainstream. The characters are very cliché, I almost couldn’t believe that the most evil, corrupted and power hungry person in the whole book would be a Republican, Christian white male. Really?! Could you have come up with anything more obvious than that, Mr. King? I don’t think so.  Political orientations aside, I was most bothered by King taking cheap shots at Christians. I have to be honest with you, I am sick and tired of writers doing that nowadays, especially when it happens to be an author I respect and like for his unparalleled characterization skills. King chose the road of least resistance because who is honestly going to not like reading about this ‘far right, fundamentalist Christian looney’.  If you read majority of the reviews, people love it. Well, I hate it because written word is a powerful weapon and Under the Dome propagates a stereotype that happened to be unjust and hurtful.

Technically, King is still somewhat successful. He knows what he’s doing when introducing a cornucopia of characters without having a reader dazed and confused. You will most likely have no trouble with finding your way among the residents of Chester’s Mill. Character development is flawless and I had clear images of each and every person featured in the novel even though the descriptive passages and adverbs and adjectives were few and far between. You want to read a fest of ‘show and don’t tell’? Grab Under the Dome.  Despite all of the above however, at the end of the book I realized I couldn’t care less about any of the residents. It was a shock to me because that never happened with other King’s books.  One last thing, this is not another Stand. The Stand is a timeless masterpiece and Under the Dome pales to transparency in its light, almost as if Mr. King ran out of ideas and there were no more tricks up his sleeve.