Stephen King's UNDER THE DOME
Book Review by Dennis D. McDonald
I haven’t tried to read anything by King in over 20 years. The last time I tried I found his writing to be pedestrian and uninteresting.
UNDER THE DOME is different. I fell into reading this 2009 novel almost by accident and got hooked quickly. I vaguely remembered that Roger Ebert liked it, and that counted for my interest, I think.
It’s a splendid tale. It’s down to earth, funny in parts, but regularly just plain scary. The flashes of violence and cruelty are unsettling. The everyday physical details are well placed. There were almost too many characters to keep track of, but I got used to that. The main characters stood out and that’s what’s important.
Seeing how a small town can descend into chaos and savagery is tough to watch. Identification with the characters is important as a way to get through the tough parts.
I don’t think the female characters are as well fleshed out as the males. I see the basic personality outlines and sense that King develops a directory of characters along with their physical and psychological traits, then refers to this repeatedly as he writes. The women, young and old, just seem a bit stereotypical to me.
That said, I am in awe of the storytelling here and the management of plot threads. King builds the main characters bit by bit and we see into their souls — the males, for the most part. The total experience is gripping, original, and awful to contemplate.
Review copyright (c) 2012 by Dennis D. McDonald