read-a-long, but it seemed like a good idea to try. I've discovered, though, that I don't really like read-a-longs. Recording my opinions about the book every few hundred pages in a little blue diary, I realized that they fluctuated a lot. They went something like:
1. this book is so exciting, what a great start.
2. okay, things are going way slow, too much dialogue, don't you think?
3. BAM, that was awesome and so unexpected.
4. this may not be as cool as The Stand or IT.
5. No, no, it's better...!
The last one, had I kept on keeping notes, would have said: Now, that was a great book.
Goodreads has this summary:
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when -- or if -- it will go away.
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens -- town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.
I just realized that anything I say about this book is going to sound like every other Stephen King book review on the blog. I could paste paragraphs directly out of my review of 11.22.63 and Cujo and be done with this. Really, all the things I loved about Under the Dome were basically the same: the characters, King's uncanny ability to show just how people would react in any situation, the mystery and the build up to the craziest climax, the emotions involved and how the final scenes touched me and scared me at the same time. The truly bad guys were extremely horrible and the book was violent, with mass hysteria, rape, drugs, murder and the whole propane smuggling thing. The good guys were, as it turns out, capable of things that weren't quite good, either. The Dome brought out the worst in everybody. The secrets and lies did tend to be predictable, but I found the familiarity of the situation troubling, which I suppose is how it was intended to make me feel. It was disturbing how I could relate to the characters at their worst. The idea of the Dome and what follows in the little town is ridiculous and amazing at the same time: which, again, are two words that would fit any Stephen King story.
The thing is, though, this is a book for people who are already fans. If you aren't, you'll be bored, you'll want to give up on Page 300, because the plot just isn't moving fast enough. If you haven't read The Stand or IT, you wouldn't realize how the size of the book becomes worth it, in the end. If you're looking for hardcore science fiction, this is not it. This isn't the genre the writer's famous for, so if it's your first shot, try reading Salem's Lot or The Shining (which was my first Stephen King novel!) Misery, I suppose, would also keep a first-timer completely engaged throughout, which I can't guarantee in case of Under the Dome. But if you are a fan and have time on your hands, this is certainly a pretty great read.
I'm glad I finished the book while the new CBS miniseries based on it is still, in fact, new.