This massive work from Stephen King was at once engaging and frustrating. Clocking in at over 1,000 pages, and featuring a vast array of characters, “ambitious” is easily the best word to describe this work from King. At this later stage of his career, it would be easy for him to crank out shorter books and stories, but he’s still attempting to tackle epics.
In this case, he succeeds, and through success, also fails a bit. The book takes place in the small town of Chester’s Mill, and by the time you’re halfway through the book, you’ll feel as if you lived in the town yourself. This is where the book scores its greatest victory. However, keeping up with every individual character becomes tiresome and occasionally confusing as events begin to ramp up towards the big ending. The town finds itself surrounded by an invisible dome. Nobody knows where it came from or how to get rid of it. Everyone is trapped in the town, and as resources dwindle, tensions run high. Small town politics, back door deals, and skeletons in the closet quickly come into play, and what was once a cozy town becomes a war zone, with one corrupt politician seeking to make a play for power, fame, and money while conveniently eliminating his enemies.
The explanation of the dome, and by extension, the end of the book, are a bit disappointing, as King uses an external device to solve the immense problems he’d kept long simmering between these townfolk. He pulls no punches in who lives and who dies, and his style is still engaging, but I think he missed the chance to create something amazing by venturing into the fantastic. It’s a bit hard to discuss without getting into spoilers, but I do recommend the book to anyone with a lot of free time (and strong arms).