This is the last in my Cannonball Read books for this year, and I doubt I’ll be doing it again. Still didn’t make it to 100, but I did better than last year and more than met my target of 52, so I’m happy.
For my last one I went with more Stephen King, since I’d been on a bit of a roll with him and had really enjoyed the books I’d read recently. I imagined that Under the Dome would be similar to The Stand, an epic novel I could get my teeth into with characters I would follow and be sad to leave behind. Sadly, I was wrong. I was so disappointed by this book. It took me forever to get into it, the writing felt lazy and wasn’t remotely engaging, and I was tempted to give up several times. It really didn’t pick up until the last third, and at a book this size that’s really not a good thing.
The small town of Chester’s Mill is suddenly and myteriously enclosed within a dome one Saturday afternoon, a dome that is unpenetrable and causes devastation as it falls – killing many of the town’s inhabitants and cutting off others from their loved ones. Dale Barbara, or Barbie as he is known, was on his way out of town after a fight with some locals, but was trapped before he could leave. Junior Rennie spends the first few hours of the Dome oblivious as he commits murders and hides the bodies. His father, Jim Rennie, is a used car salesman and second selectman, using his influence to bully the townspeople while funneling funds and supplies into a meth lab. As the Dome continues, Big Jim takes over, employing new policemen, causing a food riot and many more problems in his quest to run the town. Barbie is appointed the man in charge by the military, but is soon arrested and in danger of being executed to shut him up and keep him out of the way.
A whole lot of not much else happens, as it felt like much could have been omitted to make it more interesting and quicken the pace. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, but none of them are that distinguishable from each other, especially in the beginning, so it’s hard to care as much as you probably should. Plus Barbie is behind bars for a good chunk of the book and therefore outside much of the action, which doesn’t help matters. Yes there are other characters, but to me he was the main one we were following and rooting for, and his absence did have an impact on my enjoyment. I also had issues with Rennie and his power over everyone and how limited their response was to him. He’s just a man, and yet people are afraid of him, and he manages to assert his influence and bring the town to its knees in less than a week. Yes people would be afraid, but enough to completely lose their minds and follow someone like Rennie? Especially as he comes across as so blatently untrustworthy? I just didn’t buy it. I understand trying to make the story more engaging and have a villain, but it didn’t work for me. I did find him hateful and wished someone would put a bullet in his head, but when people kept trying to bring him down yet were completely inept at doing so, I got bored. How many times can you lose an envelope with incriminating evidence? And don’t even get me started on the dog’s point of view… And then you don’t even get a big final confrotnation between the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ of the town, it ends with a total whimper. You can’t string your audience along for almost 1000 pages and have your main adversaries end up on opposite sides of town not knowing or caring what happened to each other. Talk about frustrating.
I feel like the story had a lot of potential, but it didn’t live up to it, and it never really goes anywhere. It just limps along for an age and then has a cop out ending. So not what I was expecting from King, and a lame way to end my Cannonball Read.