Under the Dome by Stephen King
Published by Gallery Books on June 11, 2013
Genre(s): fiction, science fiction
Format & Length: paperback, 1,074
Find on Goodreads
Now available in a TV tie-in edition to the hit series, Stephen King New York Times bestselling tour-de-force that The Washington Post called powerful, and harrowing, follows the apocalyptic course of events when one Maine town is physically cut off from the rest of the world.
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.
This being my first Stephen King novel, I didn’t quite know what to expect. This, however, was not even close to what I might have anticipated.
We start out with a bang – literally – as the dome comes down over this small town in Maine and a plane crashes into it. There are other crashes, as well as some slicing and dicing of characters already as the story just begins. Despite these numerous accidents, the remaining first third or so of the book slows down quite a bit as it introduces a multitude of characters.
At this point, I started thinking, “I want to know what the dome is and how it came to be!” Meanwhile we’re left reading about the politics and relationships with only random snippets of foreshadowing about the dome’s existence and reason for coming about. Not to say that the characters, their relationships, and politics is not interesting. It is. Which is important, given that this is really the point of the story. I can understand why it was made into a TV series – with all the characters and their points of view it would be interesting to watch. That being said, due to the large cast, many of the characters are one dimensional or stereotypical. On the other hand, I have to wonder if this is intentional on King’s part as he explores how the small town network reacts under extraordinary circumstances.
I enjoyed reading Under the Dome. The mystery of the dome itself and the examinations of human nature intrigued me. Ultimately, though, it was entirely too long. It could have used a much more heavy handed editor. At over 1,000 pages, I’m not picking this brick of a book up to read again.