Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stephen King's Under The Dome

In preparation for the June 24th CBS premiere of Stephen King's Under the Dome, I decided to undertake reading the novel. It's a behemoth at over 1074 hardcover pages first published in November of 2009. I prefer audio books and that translates to about 34 1/2 hours (to put that in perspective, most books are in the 8-15 hour range). Six weeks later I finished listening to the book, expertly read by the incredible stage actor Raul Esparza. When all is said and done, this will be recognized as one of King's best works. Read it!

The story is simple. One October morning (just 11 days before Halloween!), an impenetrable dome falls over the town of Chester's Mill. The invisible dome slices animals in half, airplanes crash into it, and seals off the town. Only scant air and some water from the dissected rivers pass through the dome. Even missiles can't cause a dent. The 1000+ people inside are left to their own devices as they come to grips with the circumstances, the growing lack of supplies, and a self-appointed leader (and used car salesman) who believes God put him in charge.

Original hardcover image
This is a very ambitious and sprawling novel with many characters that required a character cheat sheet and an illustrated map of the town (see below) in the foreword. But it is a vastly entertaining ride that's often marked with grotesque incidents. I'd forgotten just how absorbing a King novel can be, and this one makes you pay attention. It's very much a mix of The Stand + The Mist and King take's a very wide lens to capture all the basest of human emotion under crisis.

Map of Chester's Mill


Having read about the upcoming TV series and the revisions to the story, I am very glad to have experienced King's original vision. There has yet to be a great TV adaptation of a Stephen King book, and the 13 episodes airing this summer are a starting point for a longer series (rather than a self-contained miniseries). It sounds like only the basic concepts and the characters will remain from the book. Also, it may be frustrating for the viewers not to get answers about the dome until several seasons down the road. A worst scenario is that the show doesn't get a second season and viewers are left to lift the dome themselves. Let's hope this gamble is worth it. Check out the preview below!

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