When I first saw Stephen King’s new novel, Under The Dome I thought to myself, “didn’t this guy retire?” That was quickly followed by “Not another Stephen King snoozer.” I am a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read almost all of his books. My favorite book of all time is The Stand. He is very likely the greatest American author of the late 20th century, so says I. I was even recently excited to learn that the high school my children go to teaches an advanced English class called “The Writings of Stephen King and Edgar Alan Poe”. Having said all of this though I couldn’t help but wonder if I should read his new one or not. For one it’s over a thousand pages long, for two it weighs about 30 pounds and last but not least, his last few books have sucked big time.
Great and favored authors of mine churning out nothing but schlock later in their careers is nothing new in my experience. John Grisham and Tom Clancy being classic examples of this phenomena. I didn’t think it could happen to Stephen King though, but sadly, it has. The majority of his novels written since 2000 have been subpar rehashes of his previous work. The Talisman was one of his best works; its sequel, Black House, not so good. Christine was one of the most awesome books ever, From a Buick 8 almost laughable it was so bad. The trifecta of Cell, Duma Key and Lisey’s Story turned me off from King forever.
But then I found myself staring at this behemoth of a book at Walmart (Under the Dome is about 4 inches thick) and something about its sheer size brought back the thrilling memory of reading The Stand, IT and other superb King novels that were also ginormous in size. As if I was under some sort of spell I found myself minutes later coughing up over $20 for it.
This is a great book and an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys Stephen King novels. If you’ve never read one, then this is a good one to start with. The story is extremely compelling, the characters engaging, the action non-stop and brutal, the plot amazing. One could safely say that King has found the Path of the Beam once again (if you don’t understand that comment pick up the 7-book Dark Tower series by King – you won’t regret it). Endings have always been a shortcoming of Kings but this one wraps up extremely well.
I’ve read two reviews that panned the idea that small-town politics would be so cutthroat if not evil. Those people have never been to a city council meeting in a town with less than 3,000 people in it. I have and it’s amazing how overly serious and dramatic they take themselves. Short men buy big trucks, the less endowed buy sports cars and small towns politic in a way that would make the New York City Council uncomfortable and nervous because there’s so much conflict. King shows this less known tid-bit of small town life with gruesome precision.
There is some bad to it. King has definitely got his liberal on in this book. The main bad guy is a Republican, a Jesus-freak and drives a Hummer. He admires an autographed picture of himself shaking hands with Sarah Palin and an autographed picture of himself shaking hands with Tiger Woods who he remembers fondly as a pretty decent guy “for a negro”. King would defend this by saying one of the main heroes of the book is a Republican also. However, the few insights into this person’s political views shows her as being about as conservative as Nancy Pelosi.
King also showcases the more recent “truths” liberals take to be self-evident. Water boarding is the worse torture ever, and is ineffective and shouldn’t be used. All prisoner’s being held by the US Army in Iraq are being tortured and brutalized and political talk radio is nothing but dangerous propaganda the likes of which has not been heard since the days of Goebbels under the Nazi Regime.
Despite these flaws the book is pretty good. There is no doubt that King is past his prime but he’s managed to pull off another winner. I give Stephen King’s Under the Dome 4 stars. Buy it and read it today before Sarah Palin becomes President and has every copy of it burned. As if.
Monday, December 21, 2009 JustJim