Under the Dome, by Stephen King

King's "greatest epic since The Stand" is set in a New England town that's cut off from the rest of the world when an invisible force field descends around it. With the US Army unable to get in, the inhabitants are at the mercy of the corrupt town officials who are determined to exploit the situation for their own ends.

I guess "epic" is appropriate given the length of the book (around 850 pages), but it didn't feel anything like as significant a book as The Stand. I think that's partly because it is focused on a relatively constrained geographical area, and took place in a fairly short space of time (about a week) but I don't think it was just that.

The book begins with a map of the town, as well as two pages containing dramatis personae which looks hopeful - you think "oh good, there's going to be lots going on", but in fact apart from a few of the characters, most of them were pretty unremarkable and interchangeable. In fact I don't think the map or character list were necessary or particularly useful.

It was readable - King generally is - but not particularly compelling.

What I did like was that for the most part, the violent and evil behaviour of the "baddies" was from within, rather than being under the influence of some kind of supernatural evil entity, such as Tak in Desperation or the Crimson King in Insomnia or the spider thing in It. And, unlike a lot of King books, the end of the book didn't feel a silly let down - I quite liked his explanation of what was going on.

So a bit of a disappointment. Makes me want to read The Stand or It.

Completed : 26-Oct-2011

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