Under the Dome by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the first new Stephen King I've read since he completed his Dark Tower series, at which point I thought he was going to retire, and then we he didn't, I sort of retired him on my own. But I needed a page turner to open my winter break with and I remembered that some reviews were heralding this as "vintage" King, so I picked it up.
Let's be totally clear: Stephen King phoned it in for this book. None of the characters feel especially loved or fleshed out and they, along with several of the story threads feel like amalgamates of better, King books. Needful Things and Salem's Lot both come to mind. But to be fair, the situation is driving the book, not the characters. The main thread under the dome is an extreme rendition of the Stanford Prison Experiment: it's not so surprising, but it's very compelling.
What disappointed me most about the book was it's lack of a grand architecture. Stephen King's last book to top 1000 pages was The Stand in 1990. The Stand had the benefit of both a compelling situation and plenty of fascinating heroes and anti-heroes. Plus, it had a place in the over-arching mythology of The Dark Tower series, King's "uber-novel." The Stand is a masterpiece. UTD is a lark.
While it may not live up to the standard set by his past novels, it is King's most compulsive page turner since Wizard and Glass, and his most visceral horror novel since Desperation/The Regulators.
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