Under The Dome Review by Dire Wolf
The first novel I've ever read by Stephen King turned out to be a sensational and highly entertaining epic. A novel that manages to incorporate a town cut off by an invisible dome, a meth-addicted christian radio-station care taker, a brain tumor-afflicted young man who seems to enjoy the company of corpses, and a sociopathic used car salesman who tries to crown himself dictator over the entire town, is guaranteed to be an interesting read. And amazingly, somehow, the author manages to balance all of these elements in a way that makes them seem plausible, as if this scenario, although ridiculously far-fetched, could potentially happen in a town near you!
One of the great things I loved about Under The Dome was the subtle satirical nature of the whole story. It manages to walk the tight-rope between seriousness and comedy, and this is probably the main reason why I enjoyed the novel so much. During the opening sequence when the dome has just befallen over the town, unsuspecting motorists begin crashing their vehicles into the invisible barrier. The plight of these poor souls is both sad and amusing in the same stroke. The bloody noses that arise from people walking into the barrier only add to the humorous chaos of the bizarre situation. Although I normally tend to root for the good guys in most novels, I couldn't help but secretly wish for big Jim Rennie to turn into a full-fledged town dictator and make a bad situation more comically worse.
Along with Jim Rennie, the many other fantastic characters, including Colonel Cox, Phil Bushey, and "Scarecrow" Joe McClatchey provided the story with an incredibly diverse and rich atmosphere. All the secondary characters were very well formulated, and the interconnecting parts they played throughout the story are well woven, like a finely constructed spider's web.
The ending to Under The Dome was the icing on the cake. To think that all the suffering and pandemonium that Chester's Mill just experienced was merely the result of alien children ("leather heads") horsing around, like human children playing with a magnifying glass over an anthill, forces the reader to broaden their persepctive, and this only serves to push the novel into the realm of greatness. And the most interesting aspect of all is that the "leather heads" aren't really to blame for much of the chaos that happened in Chester's Mill. Many of the bad things that go wrong are the consequence of the town folk placing too much blind faith in their sociopathic leader, Jim Rennie. Anyways, I thought it was an incredibly fitting ending to have humans on their knees begging alien children to stop messing with their town. One can't ignore the metaphor that is implied by this ending. The alien childrens' alteration of the environment of Chester's Mill by imprisoning it with a dome, and the subsequent ecological effects on the town (lack of rainfall, deteriorating air quality, etc), remind us of how humans dominate the natural environment here on Earth, mostly without a care for the effects it has on other species. If dolphins could talk, would they beg us to stop polluting their oceans? And would we muster enough pity for them to heed their call? Just like the alien children playing with their high-tech dome toy, we humans are in our technological infancy, and I don't think we yet have the wisdom or sense of responsibility to be true stewards for the planet. Interesting stuff to think about! Any book that inspires me to think of such deep, perplexing questions earns my respect.
The ending was far different from what I imagined would happen. I was expecting the town to last a lot longer and eventually resort to cannibalism to survive. Fortunately, that grotesque scenario did not come into fruition, but nevertheless Under The Dome still manages to shine the spotlight on the dark side of human nature, with Jim Rennie and his newly formed town gestapo serving as prime examples.
Under The Dome is a magnificent book, the thousand pages contained in it go by surprisingly fast. The pacing for a novel this size is splendid.
My Score: 9.5 out of 10.
Also, check out the website for Chester's Mill: http://chestersmill.com/
I can't believe someone took the time to set that up, lol.