This is small town life – under a magnifying glass. It seems to be a normal October day in Chester’s Mill, Maine when the town is suddenly forcibly seceded from the rest of the world. The Dome appears suddenly, without any fanfare or noise, but the consequences of its appearance are deadly. And even after the initial hubbub subsides, the citizens of The Mill are forced to come to the stark realization that they are trapped within their town. The story follows the many inhabitants of Chester’s Mill, from woodchucks to people to dogs, as they try to solve the mystery of the Dome – if they even have time while trying to survive.
This is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while now, but was always intimidated to actually pick it up because of its length – over 1,000 pages! But when I found a pristine first printing hardcover in a used bookstore for $5, I knew I had to get it. I finished this book in nine days. And while the fact that I had two five-hour flights with which to kill time probably helped, it was in large part due to King’s storytelling ability. The tension builds throughout this entire story, until you’re reading as fast as you can just so you can find out what happens next. King doesn’t use foreshadowing so much as he just tells you what’s about to happen in some cases. If not used perfectly, this tactic would seem trite and spoiler-y. Here, it serves to shock the reader and ramp up the tension about what’s going to happen. King also frequently switches tenses – something we’ve all been told is sacrosanct time and time again in our English classes. But when he suddenly moves from past to present tense, it slows everything down – I pictured it as a time freeze as the ‘camera’ zooms in on different characters in the same scene. Again, these different tactics would seem gimmicky if not done very, very well. But King does use them very, very well.
And even though this is a science fiction story, the main focus of this book is people – how people support, betray, ridicule, condemn, and trust other people when put under extraordinary pressure. That being said, there’s certainly enough there for fans both of realistic fiction and science fiction – one minute you’re wondering if the local reporter is going to get the scoop, and the next minute you’re witnessing children having strange, prescient seizures. Needless to say, I highly recommend this book. You’re certain to get well and spooked, and not just by the size of the book or the impressive cast of characters. Because of the graphic nature of some scenes in this novel, I definitely recommend it for mature readers only. I won’t give any spoilers here, but if you’re worried I encourage you to either ask me or look up a more complete summary. Also, one last thing: this is completely different than the TV show! So if you’ve already watched it, no need to fear that the book has been spoiled for you. This Chester’s Mill is a completely different beast – one that has many secrets just waiting to be discovered.
Title: Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
Dates read: May 8-17, 2016
Rating: Five stars