Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The pink stars are falling.

A few nights ago, I finished Under the Dome by Stephen King, a book I’ve wanted to read since it came out. Stephen King is, undoubtedly, a god of science fiction and this book does nothing to dispel that notion.

Under the Dome is, at its heart, a sci-fi human drama story. The inhabitants of a small town in the United States suddenly finds themselves trapped beneath an invisible and impenetrable dome. As the US Army attempts to break through the Dome, those on the inside are panicking, leading to a series of events that no-one could have predicted.

I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King but, what I have, I love. The Cell I read a few years ago (who doesn’t like the idea of our mobile phones sending us all insane?) and Carrie when I was a teenager. Carrie has stayed with me though. It’s possibly one of the most perfect pieces of fiction ever put together. It’s terrifying, but at the same time, beautiful, and I thought the way he was constantly changing the style and genre throughout was brilliant. The Hollywood film with Sissy Spacek was a startlingly poor adaptation (I actually saw a Sky One two-part version some time before it and that was excellent), especially after all the raving I had heard. I think it’s because of my total love for Carrie as a novel that I am inclined to elevate my expectations of any King book.

Under the Dome was, without question, a tremendous novel. It was epic, scary, full of gore, and with enough dirty cops and politicians to have even the most docile citizen up in arms. And I loved it for all those things. The thing I didn’t love was the length.

It was long. Ridiculously long. Over 900 pages of Stephen King’s depressing dome-y world is enough to bring anybody down. I did enjoy the book, but I really wish it had been shorter. It’s difficult to say if anything could have been omitted because I can’t define what contributed to the sombre and bleak landscape and what didn’t. I am pretty sure, though, that if the book had been shorter I wouldn’t have been so pleased to finish it. Carrie is a tiny slip of a book and I find myself coming back to it again and again. Under the Dome, while technically brilliant, is probably not something I’ll ever pick up again, or even something I would recommend – my friends would laugh at a novel that size.

I enjoyed the novel a lot but Under the Dome has, unfortunately, put me off anymore Stephen King epics. And it’s very likely I’ll be picking up a few more light-hearted reads in the near future.