Living Under the Dome

When I did my 101 list update awhile ago, I slyly mentioned the behemoth I was about to begin reading.  Well my friends, it has taken me weeks, but I finally finished it!  

Stephen King’s, Under the Dome was a monster at let’s say 1070 pages and a whopping 100 pounds.  Okay, alright, you got me…Maybe the book weighs 8 pounds.  Maybe.  It’s worth mentioning though as even a 4 pound book would make reading it slightly uncomfortable.  Let’s just say, trying to get cozy with a book that weighs more than the human brain (I was going to say head, but thought better to actually research that fact…well the head weighs more than Under the Dome) is no easy task.  My husband would find me barracaded into bed, my pillows behind me to prop myself up, his on my lap to prop the book up and blankets all around to make me feel warm.  Preparation to my reading routine was my sacrifice to reading this book.  As were many home projects.  You can bet that over the 3 weeks it took me to read it, my house plans, even with the housewarming quickly approaching, were put on the backburner.  I read every second I could! 

Now I realize 1070 pages isn’t that big.  Actually, most books I take on are larger than that.  I’m comfortable with books in the 1000s.  They make me feel smart, okay?  But let’s just get back to the point here – this book is HUGE, physically!

I’ll warn you now – I may mention some spoilers of this book.  I can’t control where my writing goes, so if you don’t want to know anything about this book, stop now.

Stephen King tried to write this book 30 years ago.  He stopped and picked up the slack 30 years later.  Let’s just think about that.  How cool is it, that this book has technically been 30 years in the making?  You know right off the bat, this must be good, right?  I mean, a book worth 30 years of brain function, that’s a lot of thought, that’s a lot of planning. 

Under the Dome is a rather bold message to mankind as to what self-desctruction we are capable of.  The main plotline, which actually ends up being a backburner plot, is that of the dome itself.  One day, in Chester’s Mill, Mass. an impenetrable clear dome comes down on the town, completely cutting off it’s inhabitants from the outside world.  No one knows where the dome came from, but speculations fly from all areas.  Over the days (a week total) that the book takes place, the town quickly falls to environmental, social and philosophical demises. 
At first, I found the environmental aspect to be such a huge part of the story.  Since the dome cuts off the town completely (think of an egg shaped barrier) pollutants quickly begin covering the inside “glass” of the dome.  The “glass” becomes dirty, the air unbreathable – it is a small scale vision of global warming.  It’s scary.

Then I began to notice that this book wasn’t really about the dome, although SK must have enjoyed pointing out the global warming thing, it was about mankind.  The main antagonist (Rennie) of the novel is a preachy, dictator of a man who thrives on power.   This character thinks he is put on Earth to do God’s work, when in reality he is the image of evil.  Of justified evil.  A large part of the townspeople side with him, and a smaller group side with the “good” guys.  Rennie wants to control the town, and thinks that with the help and confinement of the dome he can accomplish this, while the other guys fight to take back power, and free themselves from the dome.  Practically everyone you come to know and love while reading this book, will die.  But don’t let that stop you from picking it up.  I guess you could say that this book really is about good an evil.  But when I looked a little closer I realized that the good people, were just people.  They were the kinds of people that I hope I fit in with, actually I hope that most would.  They fight back against the evil, not to rebel, or to prove that they are better, but because there is something in this life worth fighting for. 

I couldn’t help bringing back thoughts of 9/11 as I read this.  I could see the justified terrorists, feeling that what the were doing was what their religion told them to do, however wrong that was.  I could just as easily see the passengers of a certain plane that took back that plane from the bad guys, knowing in the end, they would die, but that they could save the lives of others, and protect a little piece of this world. 

So in a book where thousands die, and a small handful live, was it really about good versus evil?  Was it about global warming?  Maybe the ever growing world of drug manufacturing?   Or was it about the fight that mankind will continuously make, for something that is worth fighting for?  Could it be, that this book was about us?

It’s a book with a thousand meanings (one for every page in fact) that both scared me and made me feel empowered.  I still can’t say why I loved it so much, because there are many things about it I didn’t like.  But at the end of the day I was spellbound, I loved every second of it, even the parts I hated.

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4 thoughts on “Living Under the Dome

  1. Please don’t hate or think me ignorant, but the only thing I could think of when reading this post was “The Simpsons Movie.”

    (Also a project decades in the making, no?)

  2. Couldn’t have said it better, Boo. There were things I didn’t like, but all in all, he is the master of creation. I “know” his characters; they live and breath. The detail in his books, this one in particular, is arduous to read, but equally gripping. Very good read, if you can handle the weight of the book!

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