I’ve been somewhat reluctant to write this review. Not because I didn’t want to, or because I didn’t think it was worth one (heresy!), but because I don’t think there is anything I could say that would do Under The Dome justice. It deserves more than just simple platitudes. Even one word answers like ‘magnificent‘ or ‘amazing‘, that are very effective at being descriptive yet concise, are not adequate for the heaps of praise I want to throw at Stephen King for writing this book. It just isn’t enough.
So, if you didn’t get it before, I like Under The Dome. A lot. In fact, I love it. It’s unquestionably my new favourite book, that’s how much I love it. And don’t expect it to lose that hallowed title because it has raised the standard so high (it’ll take something very blooming good to beat that; even Duma Key, which I thought was wonderful, can’t compete). Simply put, it’s the best book I’ve ever read.
Sure, it probably won’t be a literary classic, and some of you might be rather snobbish at the fact I’ve just said Under The Dome to be the best book I’ve read, and probably will ever read (by that, I mean I’m not going to read another book; books have been won by Under The Dome, and it’s pointless trying any others out*), but I honestly don’t care. I just don’t believe there is a single book out there that will entertain me like Under The Dome has. It is the only book that I’ve been addicted to from the very first word to the very last, and I really can’t big it up enough. It’s just fantastic, and you must read it. You must.
What’s so good about it?
Well, everything, to be honest.
For one, King’s writing is probably the best I’ve seen from him (if Koontz was on fire, King is an unstoppable inferno). There were some beautiful passages, and as I said before, I was sucked in immediately. His digressive (another new word!) style never extends too far either. I know he’s often criticized for that, but in Under The Dome, it was written in such a way it all seemed relevant. Nothing was unnecessary. The pacing was incredible too; I don’t think I’ve ever read a King book that has managed to keep such a great tempo to it (an impressive feat given how much detail Under The Dome has; it’s definitely one of his biggest novels, which is saying something). Even when nothing was happening, you always felt like something was about to happen. Whether it is through the suspense, or the perfectly deployed piece of foreshadowing (one chapter in particular stands out; King describes the various scenes in the town, and it all sounds so lovely and happy…then, with one sentence, it is all turned upside down, and you begin to fear about what’s going to happen next), you are permanently on edge. It’s just incredible.
And, really, it’s King’s narrative that makes Under The Dome so damn good. An invisible, impenetrable dome sealing off a small town in Maine is an unbelievably good premise in its own right, (immediately you’re thinking how? who? why?) but somehow, it isn’t even the best part of Under The Dome. It is simply the device that King uses to create his story. It’s the characters of this small town that make it real. They are so diverse, and so interesting, you can’t help but take note of them.
Of course, you want to learn more about the dome too, but it’s the town, and the people of the town that lure you in. I cared so much about the characters, and I was so fascinated by their stories. They are ordinary people, yet at the same time, completely difference. Essentially, how they act to the dome is what makes Under The Dome come alive (that’s why it’s called Under The Dome; if it were just The Dome, the emphasis would be elsewhere). In a matter of weeks (if that), you see how being separated from the outside world breaks down the rules of society in this town, and how the things we consider important as human beings are easily forgotten when normal life is disrupted. The ugly side of humanity is brutally revealed, and it makes putting the book down so damn hard. It is so clever, so incredible (I’m sorry if I keep using the same words over and over again…as I said before, nothing seems good enough). Frankly, what King has managed to do is nothing short of genius.
And that’s about it. I could go on. I really could. I could talk more about the dome, I could talk more about the characters, I could talk more about the narrative, and so on. But I won’t. All I will say is Under The Dome is bloody marvellous. I can’t even pick flaws in it. It’s just perfect.
Well…almost perfect. I suppose there is one, minor disappointment (but I must stress that I use that word loosely; if disappointment was a full size earthquake, this minor version would be one of those trembles that you barely notice) to Under The Dome: the ending.
But before you go, ‘ah, that’s Stephen King, what do you expect?’ (in fact, I said something like this only last week), it is a lot more complicated than that. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers so this is going to be rather tricky to explain…but I’ll give it a go.
The reason why Under The Dome is such a good premise, and such a good idea, is the same reason why the ending was never going to be fully satisfying for me. If he changed it, it wouldn’t have worked in the same way. The book wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good.
But now that I’m thinking about it…though the ending seemed rather anticlimactic and quiet compared to the rest of the book, I reckon it was the best ending he could have given it (yep, I’ve changed my mind in just a few sentences). It was poignant; a conclusion that made you think about, uh, things (I don’t really want to be specific as it might spoil things for those of you haven’t read it yet). Fleshing out the last few chapters would have been more gratifying, but it probably would have lost something.
So, uh, ignore everything I’ve said about the ending just there. I’m going to return to my initial statement; Under The Dome is perfect. 10/10 Best book ever.
Glad that’s settled.
*A joke, of course. I’m reading a Shaun Hutson novel now, and the difference in style is huge (both are good, but in completely opposite ways).