Under the Dome by Stephen King
Published: 10 November 2009 by Scribner
Pages: 1074 (hardcover)
Genre/s: Adult, Horror, Science Fiction
Source: Own library
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when -- or if -- it will go away.
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens -- town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.
I first read Under the Dome in 2010, just after it was first released. A long time fan of Stephen King, I was looking forward to getting stuck into another King epic. For me, Stephen King has the ability to make even a 1074 page book into a fast, addictive, page-turner, and Under the Dome was no exception (I read it for the first time over a weekend - yep, in two days).
Since I've read about 300 books in between readings, my memory was pretty hazy as to the details, but I knew the major plot line - a small town in Maine is suddenly cut off from the outside world by a invisible, impenetrable dome. What follows is the story of what happens to the townspeople inside as shit starts to get real.
I was a huge fan of the opening of Under the Dome the first time, and the second time was no exception. It's a real attention grabber - the dome falls within the first few pages, and the amount of detail in which King describes the event is so imaginative that once I started reading, I found it difficult to stop.
As with many King novels, the cast of characters is huge, but there are only a few key characters - some of them average guys just trying to do the right thing and others are just plain crazy evil bastards. I love me a good baddie, and the baddies in Under the Dome are pretty despicable. Despite all the characters, I really liked how it gave me more perspectives - although I'm definitely a reader that will disregard less-than-stellar characterisation for a good plot line, so readers who need that strong character connection may not be able to forgive as readily as myself.
Under the Dome sounds like it couldn't possibly stretch to over 1000 pages - it's a bunch of people stuck in a small area and it sounds like the problems they face could become pretty repetitive, but King finds ways to make each persons' story unique. A pretty big deal considering the multitude of characters, but as always the amount of imagination and planning that goes into Under the Dome is pretty typical of King, and one of the reasons I enjoy reading his books so much.
Perhaps my only disappointment in the book as a whole is the actual reason behind the dome and the ending. It's kinda cool, and unique, but it also felt in the scheme of the plot it was over and done with pretty quickly - just not as balanced as I would have liked it to be, and perhaps even no real explanation would have worked better for me.
On the second reading, I've rated it slightly lower than my first reading, but before blogging my ratings were pretty much on gut feeling and the speed of which I read a book rather than weighing up the pros and cons, but I still really enjoyed Under the Dome, and it's definitely one of the most memorable Stephen King books I've read.