Wednesday, January 6, 2010

That was a long holiday!

As usual, I had all sorts of grandiose plans for how I would spend the Christmas vacation from work. The stack of books beside my bed was enormous, I had plenty of British DVDs that I had been "saving for a special occasion" and I just knew I was going to make some extreme progress in working my way through the backlog. Naturally, not much was accomplished. The culprit in this lack of productivity was not yours truly, but rather Stephen King! Yes, I'll admit I was swayed by all the glowing reviews his new behemoth of a novel, Under the Dome, has been receiving, so I decided that I simply must read it.

Well . . . first of all, let's just say a word about the HEFT of the thing, shall we? It's totally unnecessary for a dedicated reader such as myself to risk injury to various facial features merely by attempting to hoist an over-sized book above my head in my favorite reclining reading position. Especially when said book has plenty of blank and/or nearly blank pages included. Ahem. Unfortunately, the sheer size of the book meant that I was pretty well occupied for the reading times I had available during the break.

On to the story. As I'm sure everyone has heard, the novel concerns the town of Chester's Mill, Maine, which is suddenly and inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world when an invisible dome descends. As several planes and cars crash into the dome, the plight of the town is soon brought to the attention of the media and the military, but no one seems to have any ideas on what can be causing the problem.

Conflicts among the people of the town are really the true story of the book. Unfortunately, the "bad" folks are identified pretty quickly, and there's a dark cloud hanging over the story as you wait for them to to do something to the "good" guys (who naturally have some previous history with the baddies in pre-dome days). There were some pretty amusing and thinly veiled references to some recent politicians sprinkled throughout the book.

As usual with Stephen King's books, the actual story is very engaging and the characters are interesting. The only downside with the book (aside from the heavy-handed baddies and the aforementioned weight of the thing) was the ending. I must admit, I was wondering what the explanation and resolution was going to be, and I was sadly disappointed. Really? That's the best you could come up with after all that? It was really beyond silly. But, I guess that's the chance you take when you suspend disbelief with Uncle Stevie -- sometimes you're rewarded (The Mist or any short stories), sometimes you end up with strained eyes (from rolling them back in your head too frequently) and carpal tunnel from lifting the books. This was the latter, sadly.

Oh well, I'm sure that won't deter me from reading/listening to his next effort! And maybe the movie will be better.

Final Verdict for Under the Dome: Two Gherkins, for a promising start, but an overall disappointing outing from the King of Horror

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