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One of Stephen King's Best Novels

  • May 16, 2010

Under the Dome may be one of the most entertaining novels Stephen King as written in years, and maybe one of the longest, weighing in at a hefty 1,072 pages.  But don’t let that deter you, this novel keeps rolling from start to finish and keeps the reader deeply engaged in the story. 

A small New England town, Chester’s Mill, is a rather normal little burg.  It has a small town police force, punky teens on skateboards, trailer trash, a megalomaniac politician on a small instead of grand scale, an ex-Army drifter, an erudite newspaper editor, and group of 20 something townie toughs going nowhere fast.  It even has a crazy fire and brimstone preacher with a nasty secret and female pastor with a not so surprising secret.  Even the dogs get their 15 minutes of fame in this book.

Then suddenly, in the opening scenes, this idyllic from the outside, not so on the inside town finds itself mysteriously encased in a dome that they can neither escape from, nor anyone from the outside get into.  Suddenly, the true nature of the town’s denizens rapidly comes to light as they are utterly trapped by mysterious forces.

And it’s not a pretty nature.  Stephen King paints most of the town’s residents and decent but stupid sheep while he sets up a battle between the forces of good and evil and the grey shades of the in-between within the town.  There is an out of control police force basically run by Big Jim Rennie, who wants to control the town, and pulls all the political and psychological levers to do so.  The town becomes a cauldron of murder, gang rape by the new nasty thuggish police force Rennie has put into place, necrophilia, suicide, drug abuse, and seemingly normal people becoming crazy.

The pivotal plot of this story centers on the extreme use of violence and subterfuge by the nefarious Big Jim Rennie to use the dome to establish absolute power in the town by any means necessary, believing somehow it’s his God given destiny to do so.  Slowly a group of resisters form around the ex-Army drifter and short order cook, Dana “Barbie” Barbara setting up a battle for control of the town, that in the end has a somewhat anti-climatic, but nevertheless satisfying ending.  In some ways this novel reminds me somewhat of The Stand, as it sets up a battle between good and evil, although the evil is really, really evil, and the good sometimes comes out in those not so good, and everybody has shades of grey. 

This is a very character driven novel and the reader gets to know a great deal about the key characters in intimate detail.  We learn to loathe some, and genuinely like others, while shaking our heads at some of the odder characters that populate every town, regardless of size.

But at the end of the day, this is not an uplifting story of the human spirit.  This novel, if anything, shows the dark and ugly side of human nature.  The town is full of dull sheep bending to the will of a demagogue, the evil people are really, really evil, and they make up 99 percent of the cast.  The good side of humanity is but a small drop in a large cesspool of ugliness, trapped in a dome, and fighting it.

And of course King peppers in many modern day references that if you don’t get them it doesn’t matter, but if you do it’s great.  Being a huge fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, I loved the nod and reference to that character in this novel.  I don’t want to give too much away there, but if you are familiar with this series, you’ll get the reference.

This is a very grim but very interesting novel that is hard to put down.  It ranks as one of King’s best efforts.

One of Stephen King's Best Novels

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May 16, 2010
So, did you actually carry this novel around with you? Or did you read it only at home? I have it, but I can't get myself motivated to read it as I hesitate to take it with me on my commute and into the lunchroom. How did you do it?
May 16, 2010
Believe it or not I carried it with me and even carried it on a business trip to London in the pocket of my roller bag. It is quite the doorstop! I actually almost got in on Kindle but liked the cover...then my damn dog got a hold of it chewed part of the cover off, the little monster.
More Under the Dome reviews
review by . March 29, 2011
Under The Dome. Well, you read the synopsis.  The story takes us into a small town in (where else) Maine, where an invisible dome has appeared (pretty clever the way that ties in with the title, eh?). Anyway, in typical King fashion there are horrific accidents as people/animals/machinery run into the dome. And what Stephen King tale would be complete without a well placed and homicidal nutjob? Fear not, it's got one of those too.    The book was well written and you …
review by . June 09, 2010
I had never read a Stephen King book before I received Under the Dome as a gift last year - I just didn't really think they would interest me. But this hefty piece of writing actually changed that opinion for me quite a bit. The book defied most of my stereotypes, lived up to a few others, yet still managed to be highly entertaining throughout.      From the very beginning, the book reads like the literary offspring of a Michael Bay movie and an episode of South Park. Surprisingly, …
review by . August 01, 2010
Iraq veteran Dale (Barbie) Barbara is on his way out of Chester's Mill when an invisible shield drops down, running along the small town's boundaries. Planes, cars and birds crash into it, people run into it, and no one can figure out what it is. The US military's calculations are that a large force field in the shape of a dome has settled over Chester's Mill, cutting the town off from the rest of the country. Their efforts to destroy the dome are fruitless, as are their attempts to figure out who …
review by . June 25, 2010
Under the Dome is a TERRIBLE book.  Actually, it’s a fantastic book that just contains terrible things.         Stephen King continues to thrill with his latest post-retirement book which, in my opinion, is his greatest non-Dark Tower novel in the last 10 years.  Under the Dome is a frightening look at what might happen in small town America when the town finds itself cut off from the rest of the world.  This is King’s longest book since It …
review by . June 17, 2010
   Stephen Kings novel "Under the Dome" is an in-depth look at the inhabitants of a small Maine town by the name of Chester's Mill, barely a blip on the map, that find themselves cut off from the rest of the world due to an invisible barrier - the sudden appearance of which causes numerous injuries and fatalities to both humans and animals. Follow the inhabitants of Chester's Mill as they learn about and attempt to deal with the confusing and at times tragic series of …
review by . March 21, 2010
Stephen King is an author that goes above American Literature.  He is a global phenomenon.  He has gone from being influenced by pop culture... to actually influencing Pop Culture.  At least at one point in time he did.  There's a lot King has done to influence Pop Culture and he is still a capable writer, even while he's going onto his sixth decade and pushing his career onto forty years.  Under the Dome is an ambitious novel; one he's had rolling around up in his head …
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Long read, but good. Not as good as some of his others, but good...really kind of makes you wonder, what if? Along the same lines as "Cell".
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
really disappointing. I used to love Stephen King but maybe I'm too old for him now. The writing seems really simplistic.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Under the Dome was the first book I read on my Amazon Kindle last Christmas. Definitely a page turner with some likeable characters and other you love to hate. I found it enjoyable and interesting but didn't like a couple of ways the story turned. I still recommend it though!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
I didn't like it as much as other King books, the end kind of disappointed me.
About this book


Under the Dome is a novel by Stephen King that was released on November 10, 2009. It is a rewrite of a novel King attempted writing twice in the late 1970s and early 1980s, under the titles The Cannibals and Under the Dome. As King stated on his official site, these two unfinished works "were two very different attempts to utilize the same idea, which concerns itself with how people behave when they are cut off from the society they've always belonged to. Also, my memory of The Cannibals is that it, like Needful Things, was a kind of social comedy. The new Under the Dome is played dead straight." From the material originally written in the 1980s, only the first chapter is included in the new novel.
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ISBN-10: 1439148503
ISBN-13: 978-1439148501
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror, Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Scribner, Pocket
Date Published: November 10, 2009
ISBN: 978-1439148501
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