I have not read any new Stephen King novels for quiet some time. He sort of lost me with Tommyknockers and from then on out I just stuck with re-reading old favorites like The Stand and Eyes of the Dragon.
But Under the Dome caught my eye at the bookstore and the price was right and I vaguely remembered a positive tweet from author Neil Gaiman about Stephen King (at the time, I thought the tweet was about this book, but later learned it was for a newer one but by then, I was sucked into The Dome. So thanks Neil, for inadvertently getting me to read Stephen King again.) so I bought the monster-sized book and settled down to read.
Under the Dome is the King I love. The one who takes his time developing characters and adding layer upon layer into a story until you are so completely absorbed that you find yourself thinking about the characters when you’re not reading. You worry about some and hope others get their come-uppance in the end. Most of all, you want to find out what the hell is up with the Dome? He keeps you guessing on it for over a thousand pages but it’s okay, because there’s an entire town full of people who will keep you turning those pages.
The premise is really quite simple: What happens to a small New England town when an invisible-ish barrier is dropped onto it?
What I loved most about this book is it is not a full-on horror story like It or Pet Semetary. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it when Stephen King gets freaky with the things that can scare you like clowns and zombified relatives. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered what King is really – I mean really – good at is the character study. Stories like Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me are where he really shines. Even The Stand, which is my all-time favorite King story is more about the characters than the God/Devil thing.
Under the Dome delivers on just about everything I used to love about King’s writing and I’m so happy I found him again.*
So from me, this book gets five out of five stars. Go find it if you haven’t already read it (it came out in 2009, so it’s not new or anything) and settle in for a good, long stay inside the Dome.
It also looks like the book may be getting the miniseries treatment which could be a good thing or a bad thing. King’s track record for his stuff translating well to the small of big screen is spotty. But for every Dreamcatcher, there is The Shining. For every Langoliers, there is a Misery. So there is hope – especially since Spielberg may be attached to the project…
*Yes, I know he’s written much since Tommyknockers, including the Dark Tower series and other books I would probably enjoy if I gave them a shot. I was just so put off by by Tommyknockers that it took me a while to get over it.