Just got out from under the dome and am breathing in the fresh air.
Reading this book was a seriously claustrophobic experience. This is a story about a small town trapped underneath a giant dome. Nobody can get in or out. Just the premise alone has me breaking into a cold sweat, I can’t bear the feeling of being trapped. And though this book was a chunkster and all, I just whizzed through this book so that I could get to the ending and get out of the dome, just like all the characters in the book.
At the end, I just let out a huge sigh of relief and a big gulp of fresh air. Or at least it seemed like that, that’s how thrilling this book is.
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.
Like you might have guessed, this book was one hell of an immersive read. I just couldn’t let go of the book. Even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it.
A lot of recent Stephen King books (remember Cell?) have been just meh to me of late. But Under the Dome is Stephen King back at close to his best work.
The book starts off with a bang – with the descent of the dome, and this is King at his best – almost 100+ pages of gruesome deaths, murder, and chunks of dead bodies. I have highlighted some excerpts from this section of the book here.
Of course, the book sags a bit in the middle. It is to be expected in such a huge chunkster. The middle of the book forks into two directions:
- People investigating the dome and how to get out from under it.
- The impact of the dome on the people living in the town – the ugly small-town politics, the environmental impact of the dome, and so on
Of the above two threads, the second one is given the most prominence throughout the book. In many ways, this book is like a Lord of the Flies only enacted by adults.
Big Jim Rennie is one of the leaders of the town and he uses the dome and the uncertainty of the townspeople to establish his leadership and dominance. Bold and ruthless, he is willing to do whatever it takes to get whatever he wants.
I found his character a little too broad and as the book proceeds he becomes more and more like a caricature. However, I was willing enough to overlook it as the book becomes even more entertaining when he goes over the top.
I do wish that some more focus was spent in the middle of the book on the causes and nature of the dome itself. Because not enough time is devoted to the dome itself, the ending (which is absolutely over the top fantastic otherwise), did not have the impact it should have.
The heroes of the book finally getting out from under the dome was such an anti-climax. But then, I find Stephen King almost always falters at the end, and compared to some other terrible King book endings, this one was okay and I ended the book a happy camper.
Overall a total joyride of a read. There are issues in the story, yes, total lack of character development, sagging middle, an ending just to end the book, but in spite of these flaws, the book worked for me and how.
You can also purchase a copy of this book from Amazon
About the TV Series
I think I have a high tolerance for gore because I didn’t mind it so much. But I was quite startled by the look of the actor playing Big Jim Rennie. From the book I was expecting an overweight man with a big belly and mean eyes. The actor doesn’t look quite mean and hard enough. Of course, I shouldn’t judge just from the trailer alone, but that was my first thought.
Have you seen the TV series? Read the book? Which is better?