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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Book Review: Under the Dome by Stephen King


An impenetrable and transparent barrier inexplicably falls down over the small town of Chester’s Mill, cutting it off from the rest of the world as its inhabitants are left to fight for survival.

“When the dawn was still long hours away, bad thoughts took on flesh and began to walk. In the middle of the night thoughts became zombies.” 

Under the Dome was always one of those King books that I dreaded. Reviews were not always so favourable on Instagram with a lot of people claiming it had one of King’s worst endings… so I really was expecting the worst. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. Now admittedly that may be due to having the ending semi-spoilered for me prior to reading, but even if that wasn’t the case, I’m pretty sure I would still have liked it.
 
I’m a huge fan of when King takes a small town and really fleshes it out – I love when he expands upon the different families and relationships, and even the doggos. Under the Dome has a massive cast, which is always a problem for me initially trying to keep track of everyone, I felt like I was constantly flicking back to the character list at the beginning of the book. But as I progressed further into the story I found myself checking less and less often. We have our “good guys” who we are cheering on – Barbie, Julia, Linda and Rusty Everett etc – and then we have quite possibility THE most fucking terrible villain that King has ever created in Big Jim Rennie. I hated Big Jim with the passion of a thousand suns, and I absolutely loathed his weak-minded little minions too.
 
Speaking of Jim and his cronies, this book has a few triggers like rape and abuse, so people might want to take note of this. There’s quite a lot of violence as well. This was one of my minor issues with the book – there’s just so much of it that it becomes exhausting. I accept that King wanted us to really hate these guys, but I was calling for their blood about 100 pages in… I didn’t need to keep having this hammered home. A particular highlight for me in terms of the characters was the story of Ollie Dinsmore – I was heavily emotionally involved in his story, there were even tears towards the end!
 
I found Under the Dome to be a really fascinating exploration of what happens when a small community is just cut off from the rest of society and put under a microscope. What happens when the usual law and rules no longer seem to apply? Also when you add in a egocentric psychopath like Big Jim Rennie who already holds a little bit of power. It’s basically a huge human experiment!! And I was here for it! Under the Dome wouldn’t really be categorised as horror, but I found the concept itself horrifying, especially when King describes the smells and gases accumulating under the dome, as well as the slow decline of resources – that just makes me feel SO claustrophobic. Imagine being trapped in such a small space with Jim and his cronies where everything can be twisted to suit their agenda – no thank you!!
 
The entire point of this book is not what caused the dome, but what was happening underneath it. The dome is merely being used as a device to cut off Chester’s Mill from the rest of the world.  As for the ending itself *no spoilers here*, I really don’t understand what else could have caused the dome? There were tonnes of hints and foreshadowing indicating this outcome, so I guess I don’t get why people were disappointed. But that’s just me! I liked the ending, and I really couldn’t care less if that’s an unpopular opinion. 
 
Overall, I really enjoyed Under the Dome. It’s not one of my favourites, but it’s a pretty damn good read. Another prime example of King’s ability to create characters that you will love AND HATE.
 
4 stars.

Johann
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1 comment :

  1. I'm with you. As a character study, the Dome is fantastic. I thought Big Jim was a little over the top but, you know, then 2016 happened and the election which shall not be named and suddenly he seems A LOT more plausible. Horror story indeed.

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