Sunday, June 27, 2010

Under the dome, under the gun

I do love me some Stephen King. He was one of the first adult authors I cottoned to, and I'm happy that he's still writing even in 'retirement.' I do believe the future will be much kinder to him than critics of today are. I personally consider him something of the modern equivalent of Charles Dickins. This is not to say he not disappointed me in the past. Stephen King has been known to be lazy in his writing, over sentimental, and folksy to the point of near retardation. I clearly remember several of his novels to start oh so strong and then end in a whimper.

Luckily, "Under the Dome" is not one of those numbers at all.

"Under the Dome," is just that. An accounting of a small town that one day suddenly gets trapped under an invisible dome. It comes down without warning and fast. People are cut in half and planes and cars crash into it. People are also divided into camps. There is Big Jim who runs the town and now intends to control it completely by any means neccessary. On the other there is Barbie, a retired soldier who was ten minutes away from leaving the town before the dome came down, and his friends who just want what is right for everyone. As the outside military and world looks on, it soon becomes open nasty warfare between the two sides. Add several shades of crazy with Big Jim's son who has a brain tumor, nutty drug manufactors with religious delusions, and of course the mysterious "they" who dropped the dome in the first place and you have first class King entertainment.

One thing I like is that the doom is more than a mere barrier. It begins to retain heat, and keep the light out as it gets dirty. It certainly becomes an open metaphor for the global warming debate but not intolerably so. The inclusion of Barbie who was just recently in Iraq also opens up another set of fears that we've seen every day on the 24 hour news channels. There's a lot happening here along with classic King tropes about the darkness hidden in Norman Rockwell's small town america.

The novel moves fast, has some good characters and certainly builds suspense. It is certainly one of the better King novels of the last few years. Certainly a pleasure to know that there is still something of interest under his dome.

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