Hi fellow Junkies,
SPOILERS AHEAD for Under The Dome!!
So this is not at all Dark Tower related, but I thought I’d share this one with you all as I very much enjoyed this book and the ideas that I think Stephen King was attempting to address in writing it.
I recently finished listening to the audiobook of Under The Dome last night. I thoroughly enjoyed it (although some of the scenes were particularly difficult to listen to for me – as usual they were the ones involving violation and abuse of people, particularly women), and while I understand how some people felt that the ending ruined the story, this was not the case for me.
To me this is classic King storytelling. Like The Stand, SK examines an entire community and how all the different personalities interact. In the afterward, King says he first started writing this one in the 1970s but had to leave it alone as it was too daunting (or something). I can really see how the concept and structure of the story originated from his early years, and it has in a sense become his trademark – having a town itself as the main character of the story.
With such a long book and such a short time period portrayed in the book (only 8 days) it was possible to really discover and understand the motivations and personalities of the massive cast of characters, and unlike Sleeping Beauties (which Stephen and Owen King attempt to do a similar thing with) I actually found I liked a lot of the characters, or else loved to hate them.
Of particular interest to me was that we, as readers, got to put the town of Chesters Mill “under the dome” ourselves, as we are presented with a detailed examination of the residents and the machinations of the town.
I also particularly liked the parallels between Chester’s Mill and our entire planet. In The Mill there was no leaving the town, finite resources, and a clearly apparent climate crisis (drought and increasing temperatures) – all issues that we as a planet are facing. And it is clear (and heartbreaking) that in King’s view, people in that situation will focus on their own needs and desires for power rather than acting in what is truly the greater good of the community (or in our case, the planet). Parallels can also be made regarding the erection of the Berlin Wall literally overnight, only in that case the police state and dictatorship already existed, rather than being manipulated into existence by Big Jim Rennie.
I think this is the key point here, and the reason why I accept the ending as both necessary and satisfying. I imagine that Stephen King is not interested in *why* the dome exists, or how to get rid of it – he is only interested in examining the progress (or decline) of human civilisation when enclosed in such a bubble. From that point of view, it is only necessary that the dome exists and is impenetrable. As presented, the dome is so far beyond our capabilities on Earth that it pretty much had to be an artefact of an advanced civilisation. The idea that it was simply a game for ET children to watch was both acceptable and satisfying for me, and Julia’s use of her own (and Barbie’s) memories and experiences to demonstrate to the leatherheads that we as humans are real was also very well orchestrated.
I can understand that others felt differently, but to me this was a consistently fascinating and also quite devastating story, well up there with the better King books I have read.
Finally, I want to also say that Raul Esparza does a stellar job of narrating the audiobook. He has lots of unique voices for most of the characters, and Big Jim was especially well handled. This was one of the best narrations jobs I have heard.
So if you’ve not read Under The Dome, do give it a go. Some people don’t like it, but I reckon it’s a great piece of work.
Long days and pleasant nights,