Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Under the Dome (Stephen King)

With the exception of the Dark Tower series, I think this book may be Stephen King's best work ever. I do tend to like King's work in general, but I really loved this one. Like always, the characters are so personable and familiar - as if you've not only known them for years, but you're actually there with them, sharing their experiences and emotions (but fortunately, in this case, as with most of his books, you're NOT with them). That being said, I didn't feel the characters were quite as "lovable" as typical King characters, most likely due to the pace of the book.

In his letter to his "Constant Reader" at the end of the novel, King said he and his editor worked to trim the book down to its mere 1070+ pages with the intent of keeping the plot moving "with the petal to the metal." I'd say he more than achieved this!! The break-neck speed of the book was almost a negative aspect. I often found myself frustrated or irritated at the chapters dealing with secondary and tertiary plot lines - reading through them as fast as possible just to get back to the main story to figure out what happened next. I think I might be able to enjoy the book more a second time through, as I (hopefully) wouldn't feel the same intense, anxious need to know what happens. There was probably a good amount of subtle storyline I missed completely in my mad rush to get to the end. From the very first lines, this book grabs the reader and goes - without a pause or moment for relaxation until the end. I've never before felt so exhausted or out of breath just from reading.

While trying to refrain from giving away anything about the plot, I'll keep this fairly short. I did notice one aspect of this book that I haven't before encountered in a King novel and thoroughly enjoyed. Every now and then, he included a chapter with a somewhat guide-like third person omniscient narrator. This unknown narrator (King?) speaks directly to the reader and shows us the town and its inhabitants, often telling us to pay close attention, or to "see" every little detail. I found this not only a fascinating step back from the action (without slowing down the speed of the racing plot), but an interesting additional level to the story itself.

I really wish I had someone else to discuss this book with, but since my husband's school started up again, he won't get a chance to read it until this year is over, at the earliest. I guess I'll have to just bide my time and try not to let slip the ending... Overall, I would most definitely recommend this book, especially to any of King's faithful Constant Readers. But just make sure you don't have any plans for a few days, as you won't be able to put this book down until you race to the end with the citizens of Chester's Mill.

Also, be sure to check out the town's website: - Love it!!

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