Under the Dome by Stephen King
Publication Date: 2009
The Short Version:
An unexplained impenetrable dome isolates a small Maine town and chaos ensues.
I know if I try to write my own synopsis I’ll go off on tangents and it’ll be incomprehensible so I’m using the publisher’s description of this one.
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.
After I read Carrie way back eons ago when I was in high school I immediately became a Stephen King fan. I read nearly everything he wrote and even grabbed the Richard Bachman books once I knew he was actually the author. I kind of fell out of my Stephen King habit when I couldn’t get in to the Dark Tower Series and I didn’t like The Eyes of the Dragon. I was kind of hit and miss about picking up his books and I think the last one I read was Dolores Claiborne. The Stand remains one of my all time favorite books. I’ve read it several times and eagerly re-read it when the expanded edition was released.
I was intrigued enough by the idea of 11/23/63 to buy it but I still haven’t read it. I was very interested in Under the Dome when it was released but I kept telling myself that I should read 11/23/63 first. Then the Under the Dome Readalong came up and it gave me a reason to set aside my silly “I should read 11/23/63 first” nonsense.
This book made me realize that I have missed Stephen King. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The idea of a dome isolating a town out of the blue is just the kind of bizarre ‘what would you do if it happened to you’ situation that I loved about The Stand.
There were plenty of elements of this book that reminded me of The Stand. Certain character types from that book (Trashcan Man and Stu) are clearly represented in the cast of Under the Dome. Big Jim Rennie and his son are so perfectly evil I loved to hate them. As often happens in King novels the children and pets play key roles.
When the Dome isolates the town of Chester’s Mill it brings out both the best and worst in it’s citizens. I found the story of the citizens of Chester’s Mill and what happens to them after the Dome drops to be far more interesting than the story of why the Dome is there. In fact the final explanation of the Dome was probably my least favorite part of the story. Nevertheless the events that take place within the town after the Dome drops make for a fascinating and suspenseful story.
Even with the slight letdown regarding the explanation of the Dome I enjoyed this book a lot and recommend it.
I have been recording the TV series and I know that it differs a lot from the book and this has been (in my opinion) adequately explained by Stephen King. It will be interesting to watch the TV series with The Hubster who hasn’t read the book.