Imagine that one fine morning, you wake up and find your house enclosed in a glass casket!
Yes, just imagine – A huge dome has covered your house from front door to back door, that allows you to look at the beautiful plants in colony park, or talk to your friendly neighbor, but does not permit you to step outside! The moment, you come in its contact, a mild shock shakes your nerves and you are thrown back. Your interaction with outer world is cut off by this large slab of transparent material, compromising even the intake of water and air. And, worse still, you do not even know when would the barrier be lifted or who has placed it in the first place. All, you understand, is that you are buried inside a coffin, while STILL ALIVE!
Scary, isn’t it? And, even unimaginably grotesque. But, this is exactly what the two-thousand odd residents of a small town ‘Chester’s Mill, Maine’ experience on the noon of 21st October, when their entire town is encased in an invisible force field, extending miles above the ground and more than a hundred feet below. In Stephen King’s epic novel ‘Under the Dome’, the worst nightmare just becomes the reality, with a sudden barrier restricting the entry and exit from the town. The entire border of Chester Mill is sealed off and neither birds nor rains can cross it!
Needless to say that the powerful storyline of this book shook the earth below my feet and I was unknowingly sucked into this never heard before tale. Reading Chetan’s Five Point Someone caused me to forgo four hours of my sleep, but my initiation into the first blue-blooded pure fictional thriller, by one of the most famous American novelist of modern times, made me loose count of the sleepless nights, I endured in last few days.
The story begins with a simple joy ride of Claudette Sanders in a plane, that soon turns out to be her last journey, as the plane unknowingly crashes against a non-existent wall. And at the same time, a woodchuck crossing the border is cut into two equal pieces. Both the events happen at almost the same time and are witnessed by one solitary wanderer, Dale Barbara, a young Iraqi veteran, who is disgusted with Junior Rennie and his gang, and is leaving town for good. But, no sooner than he reaches the border of the town, that it is sealed off by an invisible barrier, which one can touch and feel, but not see at all.
Soon, the arrival of dome becomes a piece of hot news, as people meet with accidents, on both sides of the border and are stupefied to find the remains of dim-witted birds and animals lining along the barrier. The news reaches the Army Headquarter and serious attempts at breaking the dome are undertaken. However, it appears to be invincible and the lazy town of Chester’s Mill is literally converted into a grave of thousands of living beings, as they struggle to make do with foul air and scarce water.
Will Chester’s Mill ever be able to break the barrier and renew its contact with the world or will it perish under the weight of dome, which no one knows who has created? Whether it is the handiwork of terrorists or a secret military experiment or a curse from God, nobody knows! And, as people struggle to understand the strange phenomenon, the politics and tussle of power change equations in the enclosed city. The local goons are soon transformed into a brutal police force, under the dictatorial reins of Second Selectman, Jim Rennie and the supposed savior Dale Barbara is accused of four murders and thrown in the dark recesses of town jail.
Will Chester Mill be able to shake off the enclosure, and will Dale Barbara be able to save the lives of innocent citizens from the unfaltering Dome, cunning politics of corrupt Jim and crazy antics of drug addict Chef Bushey, makes for an engrossing suspense thriller of 900 pages, that I devoured hungrily for eight days, forgetting myself and living the bad dream of Mill, suffering their sorrows and preying nonetheless to raise the curtain off the mysterious dome.
Yes, it will be an insult to Stephen King, if I say that I liked the novel. For a genius effort, it goes without saying. But, I must admit that I salute his master ability to carve out such a huge novel, involving a plethora of characters and situations. Though, I found some of the events too gory, but nonetheless I was drowned in this perfect creation. And, after 400 pages or so, just like the Mill residents, I had also become immune to the dome or the reason of its sudden arrival, because I became more interested in reading the reaction of people to life threatening situation and marveled at the brilliance of author to bring alive Chester’s Mill with his ready display of a map of the town. I felt as if this town really exists and I know its routes and people by heart.
The novel with its multiple plots filled me with an insatiable urge to read the book at godspeed, with it becoming almost impossible for me to put it down for even a minute. And, it was with great reluctance that I retire for night, with a hope to begin reading early next time. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and did not want it to ever end. Though, I had an inkling of the creator of Dome much before it was finally divulged and it can be termed as a fatal flaw in a suspense. But, there were so many events happening at such a frantic pace, that I could only rush madly to devour it hungrily without bothering about the final outcome. It was an exhilarating read, indeed.
But, I was slightly disappointed with the end. It drowned my high hopes and failed to live up to the initial hype and drama. I found the climax quite boring and difficult to digest, with all the mumbo-jumbo regarding karmas, hogging the limelight, finishing the novel abruptly. However, the seeds of a dud climax were sown earlier as I had lost interest in the reason for the creation of dome, having an inkling of what possible explanation would be given, after 400 pages or so, and was more curious to read about Rennie, Julia, and Busheys, but, I did expect a better wrap-up for such an exciting story.
Anyways, just a lack luster end does not take away all the laurels, such a well written novel deserves and I solemnly affirm that I did enjoy the novel as a whole and would love to read it once again, to grasp the finer nuances of Stephen’s fast-paced narrative. The huge novel is a worthy challenge for any serious reader. Do undertake this mission if you are patient enough to leaf through 880 pages of sheer suspense, and believe me, you would love it as I do!
Book : Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
Edition : 2010 (Paperback)
Published by : Hachette India
No. of Pages : 880
Price : Rs. 350/-