A new Stephen King novel always fills me with excitement, especially so of his latest novel, the apocalyptic Under The Dome, a one thousand page epic which promised to rival The Stand. I read the novel over Christmas and January, and I must say it was disappointing. The story concerns a small US town that becomes encased within a gigantic transparent dome, and the struggle for power that ensues within the isolated town. The problem with Under The Dome is that the book is flat. Not dull - King can still spin a yarn, but the story is so lite on horror and sci-fi, when I finished the book I felt I had waded thru a very long Twilight Zone sketch that Rod Serling could have knocked out in the early 60's (think The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street). Even a bit of necrophilia thrown in early in the novel feels a little desperate.
I've heard rumblings that the plot is close to the Simpsons Movie but I haven't seen it so I don't know. Apparently King was working on the book in the 80's under the title The Cannibals and it does feel like every bit a Stephen King novel, with a small town coming under attack by mysterious forces, and the town folk with their own dark secrets coming to the surface. Irish readers like me will get a kick out of one sequence in the book where an Aer Lingus jet (or Air Ireland, as its known in the novel) smashes right into the impenetrable wall of the dome. Finally, and I say this as a lifelong Stephen King fan, his dialogue is absolutely awful. I mean I don't know anyone from Maine, but does anyone actually talk like a character from a Stephen King novel ?