If I were ever to be given the opportunity to meet and interview just one contemporary author, it would probably be Stephen King. His writing output and his creative mind are incredibly inspiring, and I’ve read and become caught up in many of his novels. I’m always struck by the way he manages to avoid clichés and instead crafts inventively apt metaphors and similes time and time again.
Under The Dome is epic. Just in terms of size, it’s nearly 900 pages long. I picked up a paperback copy in a charity shop for 50p (an absolute bargain for such a monster!) but I’d recommend getting it in eBook form if you can as it’s pretty heavy.
It’s also epic in terms of scale. The novel tells the story of a town suddenly trapped under a mysterious invisible force field, nicknamed The Dome. In true King style, it doesn’t take long for law and order to start to disintegrate and for the dark sides of ordinary people to start to show. The ever-increasing body count keeps you wondering who will be next to drop; King has no compunction about encouraging you to become attached to a character before brutally killing him or her off. No-one is safe from the writer’s axe.
The cast of characters is vast and the novel includes a full list of them at the front. The way King handles all these personalities and creates the many ties which hold this community together without confusion is so skilful. He did in fact begin this novel when he was much younger, but dropped it as too daunting a project. Luckily he felt compelled to return to it years later, finally publishing it in 2009.
Under The Dome managed to entertain me and move me. It’s not as obviously frightening a novel as one of his classics like Carrie or Misery, but I was spooked by King’s fascination with the sheer potential for evil hidden within the human mind: at times I wasn’t able to stop reading, anxiously waiting for the latest drama to be resolved or a new threat dealt with. The ending was surprisingly emotional and I even found myself choking up about the terrible fate of some of the characters.
The book is horribly addictive. If you’re planning on picking it up at the start of a weekend, make sure you clear your schedule. I spent a wonderful couple of weeks reading this book, stealing time here and there during the weekdays and luxuriating in reading for hours at a time on two consecutive weekends.
This novel has become one of my new all-time favourites and is a must-read for any Stephen King fan.