Secrets of sins big and small color everyone’s behavior, invariably serving to tip matters closer to chaos.
As King begins to set his cast in motion, the darkness descends, literally and figuratively. In the tidy span of a week, civilization’s thin veneer goes up in flames. Most terrifying, it’s what the people of the town do to one another that leads to the subsequent mayhem and horror.
As in “The Stand,” King’s new novel breaks society down into two sides. Most people fall into the care of Big Jim Rennie, the town’s second selectman and first finagler. Rennie collects favors and debts the way LeBron James collects slam dunks: without peer. He’s raided the tax coffers, established a mammoth drug-running operation and, as the dome casts aside the outside world, establishes a police state that would make Pol Pot envious.
Rennie smashes justice and burns down the town newspaper. He instigates rationing and food riots alike, aided by the greedy depravity of a few violent teenagers and the unthinking complicity of most of his constituents.
Opposing Rennie and his ever-expanding team of thugs is an island of misfit toys led by a disillusioned Iraq war veteran-turned-short-order cook named Dale Barbara. He’s joined by the victimized newspaper publisher, a minister wrestling with her faith, three perceptive teenagers, and the police chief’s widow, among others.