Monday, November 29, 2010

Edi's Spotlight: Under The Dome by Stephen King

I did it. I really did it. I read one of the books which I definitely wanted to read until the end of 2010. I started to read Under the Dome (pb, 2010) [ISBN-13: 978-0340992586] by Stephen King with great expectations based on all the hype and positive reviews. 877 pages later I could build up my mind which I present you today.

I like short summaries and normally I prefer to write my own. But in this case I like to quote the summary delivered within the book.
"Under the Dome is the story of the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, which is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. No-one can get in and no-one can get out.

When food, electricity and water run short, the normal rules of society are changed. As a new and more sinister social order develops, Dale Barbara, a young Iraq veteran, teams up with a handful of intrepid citizens to fight against the corruption that is sweeping through the town and to try to discover the source of the Dome before it is too late ..."
As mentioned the paperback of Under the Dome stands for 877 pages divided into 26 chapters. Additionally you get a map of the town and a list of persons.

Let me start with the things I liked.
It was good to have a map and a list of important persons. The basic idea of the story - separate a whole town with more than two thousand inhabitants from the rest of the world and see what will happen - is a great playground. The narrative structure is not that difficult - don't expect many twists and turns. The prose fits to the story.

So far so good.

Now let's have a look at what I did not like.

First of all I don't like when an official summary contains wrong information.
It is not true that the town ran short on food. It is important to know this because there are events which base on the fact that the town did not run short of food.

Everything what will happen depends in the end on the people who live in Chester's Mill. Their knowledge, experience, thoughts, wishes, opinions, relationships and beliefs determine their interaction.
A society of soldiers will behave different compared to the inhabitants of a bedlam.
That means the story stands or falls with the choice of characters. And that leads me exactly to my first disappointment.

I never met so many stereotypical characters (corrupt politician, a young man with a cerebral tumor, a good cop, intelligent young boy, a war veteran, intelligent leader of the local press, and, and, and, ...) in just one story. It seems in order to be an inhabitant you must fit a stereotype. The mass of the inhabitants either act like morons or are nearly as apathetic as permanent users of downers. You will easily identify the "good" ones and the "bad" ones and the rest without brains left to think.
The "bad" ones are lead by a guy who hides his personal ambitions behind a cloud of religious and fascistic statements and actions. He appears as the incarnation of the Fuehrer and the redeemer in one person.
Parts of the book are like an orgy of violence which is demonstrated in the celebration of violence with relish and in detail. To be honest I understand that someone is tilted toward violence after the first time. I do not need endless repetitions.

A lot of people die - "good" and "bad" until the final passages of the book. Some of them have a purpose behind others are completely senseless. Anyhow without the killing of specific inhabitants the story would have taken another turn.

Do you still remember the title of the book? What's about
the Dome? Is anyone interested in to solve the mystery? In the end it is a small group of the "good" ones who try to discover the secret of the Dome.
For me
the Dome is just a means to an end, the appropriate tool of choice to separate Chester's Mill from the rest of the world. To be honest I expected a lot more related to the Dome and its origin.

There has been a point in the book from where I continued reading for only one purpose: The secret of
the Dome.

Now the end of
Under the Dome is in sight. And the end is in one word ... worse. It is like oops, the book is getting far too long. What do I need?
First stroke of a feather: Abscond the big bad guy from justice.
Second stroke of a feather: Explosions are great. The bigger the better. The less survivors the better
Third stroke of a feather: Give an unbelievable explanation for the existence of
the Dome
Fourth stroke of a feather: Deliver a kind of happy end.

For me the end of
Under the Dome is as believable as the famous scene in the following video:

It is taken from the TV cult series Dallas. For more information about this scene read DREAM ZONE FAQ.

Under the Dome is my reading disappointment of 2010. I must say that I really regret that I spent money and time for this book.

And the moral of this story: Never trust a hype and tons of good reviews.


Sarah (Bookworm Blues) said...

You can't "like" every book you read. I appreciate the honest review. This book has had a lot of hype and when books get that much hype I often don't trust the overall ratings of them. I'm glad you are honst. I will probably pass on this one.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd already heard more than one person state they were disappointed with this book, especially the ending. And I've noticed a lot of King's characters deteriorate into mob and primal mentality much faster than people in real life.

Walter Rhein said...

I've never read much Stephen King, although it's hard not to respect the guy for the sheer volume of work he produces. If I ever do start delving more into his works, I'll make sure to avoid this one.

As likely as not, it will be a movie staring Ahnold soon enough anyway...I'll just catch that!

ediFanoB said...

of course one can't like every book. In this case I have been really disappointed.
And I tried to explain my disappointment.

I agree with Walter Rhein that there will be a movie sooner or later....

ediFanoB said...


I know I'm not alone with my opinion. I'm glad that I have read other books like CassaStaR which I enjoyed a lot more.

Next time I will think twice or thrice whether to read a "hyped" book or not.

ediFanoB said...


I never read much Stephen King too. But there have been so many glowing reviews and a promising setting that I really wanted to read it.

I agree with you that there will be a movie sooner or later.

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