Stephen King’s Under the Dome is one huge book. I read it in Nook format over a period of about a month, a few pages at a time. That’s the way it goes sometimes.
As is the norm for King’s books, there was a lot of good character development both before and after the real intrigue gets started. Since this was an event that involved a whole town, there was the whole gamut of personality types involved. Everything from trailer trash to trashy politicians to just your average Joe trying to support their families. Of course, there were more than the average number of odd ones as well.
The story revolves around the Dome but also a crooked politician who uses his Christianity as the tool for justifying his wrongdoing. That’s where I took issue with the premise of the book. As much as the Dome, the story was about the corruption of Christians. Most of the characters went to one of two churches in town. One had a pastor who was a complete nutjob, the other church was led by a woman who didn’t even believe in God anymore. The parishioners were mostly corrupt and had an ends justify the means attitude toward their wrongdoing.
I don’t know what Stephen King believes, but the gist of the story seems to be that there is no God and those who believe have some ulterior motive for doing so or have such a holier than thou attitude that they justify everything as God’s will for them. “It’s ok for me to sell drugs because a portion of the money that I make goes to a Christian charity.” Inciting a riot to help bring about the call for a single, strong leader in the town government is ok since it’s obviously God’s will for a good Christian man to lead them out of the wilderness.
One thing that I think the book points out well is the need that people feel for government to take care of them. They are willing to put up with some abuse if you’ll take away their fear, tell them it’s going to be alright, and not make them take responsibility for themselves. They are willing to follow the person who stands up and takes them by the collar, leading them somewhere. Anywhere.
The thing about the story that just seemed to be too much for me was the fact that all of the would be heroes continually underestimated their enemy and one by one fell to his superior will. Everything going the right way for the bad guy went on way too long. Right up until the end, in fact. The novel could have been a couple hundred pages shorter without losing the story. There were sections where it seemed to drag on just for the sake of dragging on. The continued success of the bad guys and failure of the good guys got as stale as the air inside the Dome. I’ve seen this before with King’s books and I can see the point of those who said that it looked like he finally just gave it a quick, too simple ending because he got tired of writing it. On the other hand, I didn’t really feel that way. Sure the answer to the puzzle was simple and perhaps too elementary, but I didn’t feel like I did at the end of The Sun Dog, part of the Four Past Midnight compilation. That did feel like he just wanted to end the story and get out of there.
If you have a lot of free time or read faster than I do and can overlook the obvious Christian bashing, Under the Dome is an interesting read. I don’t really recommend it due to the simple fact that so much of the story revolves around a bunch of either evil or idiotic people hiding behind Christianity.