Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Title: Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
ISBN: 9781439148501, Simon & Schuster, 2009
Genre: Horror, Fiction
Rating: B+
Source: Paperback Swap

First Line: From two thousand feet, where Claudette Sanders was taking a flying lesson, the town of Chester's Mill gleamed in the morning light like something freshly made and just set down.

Under the Dome is huge. I never did get around to weighing the thing, but if you chucked it at someone, you could cause some real damage. It comes with a map and a cast of characters. I went through it like a house afire, and the only thing I got tired of was the feeling that I'd strapped a sleeping toddler to the end of my arm.

A dome comes down over the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine. If you're inside the dome, you can't get out. If you're outside the dome and want in, you're out of luck. If you happen to be caught halfway, you're really out of luck. You can't dig under the dome, and you can't fly over it, and used car salesman Jim Rennie thinks all his prayers have been answered. The town and the people of Chester's Mill have been put right in the palm of his sanctimonious, greedy, power hungry hand.

Although the cast of characters is huge, and the action continuously shifts from place to place, after the initial inspection upon opening the book, I never referred back to either the map or the cast of characters. I grew up in a small town, and I think I mentally put Stephen King's dome down over my own home town and called many of its people by King's names. I would imagine that I'm not the only one who did this. For those who didn't, the map and the cast list will probably come in very handy.

The dome immediately becomes a media event, and the military shows up even before CNN and Fox. It doesn't take long before people realize that the dome has an ecological effect on the town, and as people feverishly work to get rid of it, King's characters became etched in my mind: Big Jim Rennie and his spoiled son, young Rennie's pack of no-good friends, "Barbie" the Iraqi war veteran, the newspaperwoman, the minister who isn't so sure she believes in God... it's a large cast, and each character remained clear in my mind.

As the pages flew by, character after character paid dearly for hasty decisions, and I didn't always like the consequences. Fortunately King provided just enough comic relief for Under the Dome to avoid becoming overwhelmingly dark. His opinion of the human race isn't very kind; unfortunately, it's often right on the mark, so if you like reading a fast-paced novel about good and evil filled with memorable characters, pick up Under the Dome. With its heft, you'll also be giving yourself a workout.

[Note: if you have a low tolerance for gore, I'd advise you to avoid this one. I normally don't think about this because I have a high gore tolerance. Must come from going hunting with my grandfather and cleaning what was brought home to eat.]


  1. Couldn't resist the challenge, it weighs 3lb 10.6oz!

  2. Hmmm...I'm thinking in lieu of getting a daily workout, I may choose to download this book to my Kindle :)

    GREAT review!

  3. I have this one on my Kindle--too heavy to hold :)

    Glad u enjoyed it!

  4. I've always thought King would be too scary for me, but that sounds like something I could handle.

  5. Must read,will put it on my list.Thanks!

  6. I've got this one on my Kindle. I imagine it was a workout to read. Quite heavy. This sort of reminds me of The Stand, not in story content, but the large cast of characters and a King-ish situation. I'll get around to reading at some point soon, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I am so conflicted about Stephen King. I love his wonderful writing style, but sometimes the content is darker than I want to immerse myself in. His Insomnia is one of the best books ever, likewise The Green Mile, yet I had to stop reading The Stand. I am not sure where this one will fall on my Kingometer, but will keep an eye out for it.

  8. I know that this is classified as horror, and it is a Stephen King book, so I'm wondering how it measures up on the gore/horror factor. Is it scary or gross? I don't mind reading thrillers, and I made it through Blindness by Jose Saramago, but the only S.K. book I've tried to read was Carrie and it was just too creepy - I didn't make it through.

  9. I haven't read a Stephen King book in ages, but this one sounds wonderful (I like that he added some comic relief in the book)! He really is the master horror writer!

  10. Denis-- Thankee, darlin'! I thought it was bigger than those 2 lb. weights I've seen at Target!

    Molly-- A "most excellent" idea!

    Diane-- Another reader who's "smarter than the average bear"!

    Kathy-- Maybe not. I went back and included a gore disclaimer. I often don't think of things like that because most of the time, it doesn't bother me.

    Tribute-- You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

    Kay-- You're welcome!

    Susan-- The content can be dark, but with King, the ordinary good guys always seem to find a way to come out on top.

    Alyce-- The gore factor may get you. If you have a low tolerance, I'd give this one a miss. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I went back to include a gore disclaimer.

    DC-- As usual, his comic relief tended to be female. Females can be pretty good at cracking jokes to lighten the mood. Well, at least in my family they are!

  11. Thanks for the info Cathy! I figured it was S.K., so chances were that it was gory, but if by chance it wasn't I wanted to know. It sounds like an interesting plot, but I'll have to pass on this one.

  12. Alyce-- I completely understand. We all have "buttons" that don't need to be pushed. I know I do!

  13. Dark doesn't bother me but I'm not into horror or spooky. Thus I don't read King. This one, however, might work.

  14. Beth-- Although the gore factor is rather high, it's really not spooky, so you're right... it just may work for you.


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