Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Stephen King's "Under the Dome" Made Me A Reading Coward

Stephen King's "Under the Dome" was the first eBook (Kindle if you're keeping score) I ever bought. Reading it took me nearly as long as it took Mr. King to write it, close to 2 years, because I was a coward. Why? Because for most of this book, at least up to the halfway point, I had no idea how it was going to end. That's a good thing you say? I agree, which is why my reaction was so surprising. 

Warning: light spoilers

How does King pull off the "not sure who's going to make it" feeling? The cast of characters is huge, and they die all the time, even the ones that have got significant page time. It sort of feels like Game of Thrones in that regard. Maybe I wasn't being cynical enough, because once you make the halfway turn, the characters that seemed most likely to make it do. The character most likely to be the villain is in fact the villain, or at least the secondary villain. The cause of the dome, the main "villain", I can honestly say was one I didn't fully expect. Does this tie into the Dark Tower somehow? All the "19" references leads me to believe so, but not in any significant way that I can see.

But my cowardice in continue reading the story was shocking once I identified why I took such long breaks. I read other stuff in between, including King's hopefully not final Dark Tower book "The Wind Through the Keyhole" (loved it). I didn't have any issues finishing those stories. If dawned on me as I was finishing Under the Dome that I haven't been watching many movies & shows, playing many story driven games, or reading many books that don't have a long running story. I think this is what sequelitis must feel like, the damage never ending or long running stories do. Maybe it's just me, but it feels like I've been unconditioned from enjoying stories that actually end. Under the Dome was going to fast, the plot was to chaotic, is he going to explain the whole universe?

While I love stories connected to a larger universe (and any Dark Tower connection is tangential), sometimes you just need a story that's self contained, and which leaves a little to the imagination. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that end.