I finally finished reading Under The Dome by Stephen King. It may have been over 1000 pages long but it held my attention so well I hardly noticed the pages go by. It was like watching a sci-fi drama unfold before your eyes, told in a way that only master story-teller Stephen King can.
The story is about the town of Chester's Mill in Maine, and how one fine day in October a mysterious barrier of unbreakable technology comes down over the town, effectively cutting it off from the outside world. What happens next is the drama that unfolds, as the town residents only begin to understand the consequences of the "Dome", including trapped gasses, greenhouse effect, global warming, not to mention the tragic events that follow as a consequence of the residents' actions.
King had created the town of Chester's Mill so well, from its church and pastor, down to its old town town drunk. The story takes you through Sweetbriar Rose, the town's diner run by Rose Twitchell, to Romee Burpee's Department Store where you can see someone wearing a shirt that says 'Meet me for a Slurpee at Burpee's'. There's even Food City, the town supermarket and Maison des Fleurs, the town flowershop. There's also the town's First Selectman's Andy Sanders' drugstore and Second Selectman Big Jim Rennie's Used Cars where you'll be sure to 'luv the feelin' when Big Jim's dealin'!'
Here is a nice colored map of Chester's Mill town. Regular copies of the book, including mine, only include a black and white one, whereas the Special Edition contains a colored one where you can see the beautiful fall foliage of Maine.
|Town of Chester's Mill|
Click to enlarge
The cast of characters is wide and very well-built. They make the town so real you could almost feel like you could walk into it and say hi to everyone.
Under The Dome may read like a very entertaining sci-fi story at first but as I read it I couldn't help but feel there was more to it between the lines. When your town or city gets cut-off from the rest of the world and no one can escape or get in to mediate, the town's true colors come out. I thought it was about corruption, self-interest and greed of those in government, incompetence of the police force, naivety of the town residents, and the failure of parents to raise children with discipline and proper values. Big Jim Rennie was the incarnation of all these, the town's leader who was selfish and cruel to the core but came spouting verses from the Bible dressed in a charismatic leader's clothing.
On the other hand, there are also those who are smart enough to see the truth and despite the risks and dangers are also brave enough to resist and act. Dale Barbara was the Sweetbriar Rose's cook who was chosen to his dismay by the President to lead the town through the crisis. Assisting him was Julia Shumway, the town newspaper's editor-in-chief, who never supported Big Jim Rennie and made sure she talked about it in her newspaper.
What held my attention to the very end was to see the town realize it was actually Big Jim Rennie who was responsible for the deteriation of the town, for him to pay the price for what he had done to the town and justice for those he had murdered, used and abused. I won't say it wasn't done but I had hoped for more.
If you're still considering whether or not you should read this book, this amazing book trailer might change your mind.
I want to commend the marketing effort that went into this book because I found some great websites about Chester's Mill that look so authentic. Here are some of them. Enjoy!