Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Under the Tome

Under the Dome
Stephen King

The entire town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is suddenly and inexplicably encased in an invisible, indestructible dome one bright, beautiful October day. Will the residents get out? Will life Under the Dome be bearable? How long will supplies hold out? 

The story, as with all King works, is good. Well-crafted, well-researched, with painstaking attention to detail and foreshadowing. Anyone who's ever read a King novel will know what to expect, and you won't be disappointed. The cast of thousands, the gory descriptions of accidents, the eternal play of good v. evil. Yadda yadda, you know what you're getting. 

But I found the ending if not completely unsatisfying (coughTheDarkTowercough) then very - light, for want of a better word. I slogged through over a thousand pages of iffy character development (The bad guy is fat!) and rolling plot to get to a scant 15 or 20 pages of resolution. It was pat; it was convenient; it had all the hallmarks of a King lampmonster. Honestly, I carried around five pounds of book for three weeks for that? Really?

Because my time could have been more poorly spent, Under the Dome gets 3 out of 5 bacon strips. Yes, it was good; yes, I was engaged. But I could have pulled something hefting this tome around, and I don't believe for a second he needed every single word he shoved into it. Maybe it's because I'm a different generation of novelist, but there were extraneous words. Many extraneous words. I also think King is falling back on stereotypes as he gets older - seriously, the bad guy being fat was written as an honest-to-God piece of characterization. And other bad guys were stupid. And one was bad because he had a brain tumor. The good guy was in the Army, and had a secret. The good woman was a reporter who said things that definitely didn't sound Republican (because all Republicans are...what? Ignorant racists?). I guess I just like my people to be people, not walking collections of stereotypes, tropes, and tics.  

I think I'll stick to rereading the classics from now on. There's nothing like a little Tommyknockers or Carrie to make a King fan - and nothing like Cell or Under the Dome to unmake one. 

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