Customer Reviews: Under the Dome: A Novel
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 25, 2014
*This review is for Under the Dome: Part 2, but Amazon has now merged reviews for the half-book with the all the ones for the full novel, which seems very confusing.*

In case you haven't read any of the reviews for Under the Dome "Part 1," be aware....and BEWARE. This is NOT a sequel to Under the Dome. Greedy publishers have made a horrible decision to take the original 1,000 page novel and split it into two parts. If you fall for this and buy both Part 1 and Part 2, you will have paid more for the book than you would in some other formats, but the worst part of this is the treatment of those readers who don't like paying around $20 or more for a new hardcover or around $15 for a new large paperback, who wait for the smaller mass market paperback to buy a writer's newest book. Those readers now will have to pay the same amount as everyone else for the book because they'll have to buy two paperbacks at regular price to get the whole story. When I was younger, I didn't have money in my budget to buy brand new hardcovers, so when the small paperback finally came out, I'd get it for about $7 and be able to read the story. A few years ago, beginning with the book Cell, they increased the size of Stephen King mass market paperbacks and raised the price to $10. That apparently wasn't enough, as now they want you to pay for two books to get one full story. It can't have anything to do with the quantity of pages in the book; they've printed regular sized, regular priced paperbacks before of the novels It and The Stand: Complete and Uncut. This boils down to misleading advertising and a desire to squeeze as much out of loyal readers as possible. Not a good move.

**Update** It's nice to see that Amazon has finally added a "Product Alert" in the description of this half-book. It should have been done immediately upon the book's release, but I guess better late than never. Maybe not for all the people who got duped into buying it initially, however.
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on November 10, 2009
A small New England town is suddenly, inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world, trapping a large cast of characters inside (or outside) a huge, clear dome. As the emergency escalates, various heroes (and villains) emerge to play a part in the drama. What is the dome? Why is it there? Will the town survive? This is the premise of Stephen King's big, long, thoroughly fascinating new novel.

King has rarely written a book as ambitious as this. As I was reading, I was constantly wondering about the motives behind the deceptively simple story. As with the best of horror and science fiction, it isn't just about a monster on the rampage. What clearly interests King--and us, the readers--is the reaction of the "ordinary" people of Chester's Mill, Maine, who are placed in this extraordinary situation. In the struggles of these heroes, villains, lovers, and fools, we can all see ourselves. And that is the mark of a great work of art, isn't it?

I've been reading Stephen King for 35 years now--I read his first 3 novels in college--and I've always been impressed by his work. But UNDER THE DOME is in a small group of King stories that go far beyond merely being entertaining fiction. This novel will inevitably be compared to The Stand because it deals with the horrors of the world around us. Forget ghosts and vampires and space aliens--there's nothing as horrifying as what humans are capable of doing to one another. Stephen King knows that: it's the reason his stories are so effective. In his long, distinguished career, he's rarely been as effective--or as entertaining--as he is here. UNDER THE DOME is a fast-paced modern horror story, and it's also an amazingly perceptive modern novel. Highly recommended.
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on March 25, 2014
I bought Under The Dome Kindle edition and saw this "Part II" and pre-ordered it assuming it was a sequel. Wrong. The contents of this book were in the Kindle edition.

Edit: After posting the above, I went to the order and clicked return. Amazon gave an immediate refund and supplied UPS labels for returning, so at least Amazon made it right.
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on November 10, 2009
Stephen King, no novice at penning lengthy tomes, turns in another 1,000-plus-page behemoth with Under the Dome, a book he started writing in 1976 but abandoned for more than three decades. More than 30 years later, with one of the most remarkable literary careers in history under his belt, he tackled the project again, this time completing a story that plumbs the depths of human wickedness.

The town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is a pretty typical-seeming smallish New England community. It has a diner, a used car dealership, a couple of churches, a supermarket, a newspaper, and a religious radio station. Most of its 2,000 or so residents are good, honest people who genuinely care for each other and for their town.

The scene changes abruptly when a mysterious and invisible barrier materializes out of nowhere, completely cutting the town off from the rest of the world. Within minutes, the death toll begins to rise. A plane smashes into the barrier followed by a number of cars. As scientists and government and military officials scramble to find a way to break through the barrier, those inside the dome have to quickly adjust to their new reality. And with Stephen King manning the controls, it's just a matter of time before that reality turns sinister.

Within days, Chester's Mill turns into a depressing cauldron of murder, corruption, conspiracy, and increasing fear. The town's police fall under the control of a vicious town selectman with dictatorial ambitions. Resources are seized. Vocal dissenters are jailed--or worse. Soon the air quality inside the dome begins to change. Illnesses increase. Children begin to have seizures and frightening visions. Fear leads to anger, and people start to do things they wouldn't have dreamed of just days earlier. As tension mounts, the stage is set for a final cataclysmic showdown between those who will stop at nothing to enforce their agenda for the town and those who believe the town's increasingly dangerous leaders must be stopped at any cost.

On some levels, Under the Dome is almost allegorical. The town's blossoming dictatorship is reminiscent of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, with a charismatic leader ruling by force, police who operate outside the law, and "police solidarity" armbands for citizens. The worsening environment inside the dome could be a picture of climate change. The fact that the villains are all right-wing fundamentalist Christians (extremely hypocritical Christians at that) is probably a statement of some sort, and there are a few references to Falujah that some might see as antimilitary. In any case, whether or not the author intended to send a message through the story, the book absolutely illustrates the tendency of power to corrupt and the inherent wickedness of the human heart.

Under the Dome is not an easy book to read, and not only because of its size. Readers familiar with King's work will be unsurprised to find foul language and sexual content, some of it disturbing (most notably a gang rape scene and hints of necrophilia). There's plenty of violence, quite a bit of drug use, and lots of examples (very nearly too many, in fact) of people treating each other in all kinds of horrible ways. Though the dome is the reason the townspeople are in their predicament, the real conflict in the book is not people vs. the dome but people vs. each other. This book could just as easily have been titled The Worst-Case Scenario because on page after page, just when it seems the forces of good might be about to catch a break, King pulls the rug out from under them yet again. There's very little in the way of a redemptive message.

Yet all this is offset by King's trademark brilliance in character development and plot pacing, and much of the prose is beautifully crafted. King utilizes an antiquated but effective technique in his narration, slipping into present tense and addressing the reader directly at times to draw attention to a particular item of interest in a scene or to explicitly foreshadow some coming tragedy. Careful readers will find a few references to other Stephen King books peppered throughout.

When he wants to, Stephen King is capable of writing stunningly beautiful stories championing the human spirit in the face of extreme adversity (Duma Key is an example). Under the Dome is not such a book. This is a story about human ugliness, and it's all the more uncomfortable because it rings true. Even so, the brilliance of King's writing is evident on every one of the 1,074 pages. Fair warning: don't start this book unless you have some time on your hands. Uncomfortable though the book may be, it's compelling and suspenseful, and once you start reading, it quickly becomes very difficult to put down.
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on March 25, 2014
I've not purchased this and won't ... Under the Dome was broken up into two parts ... a horrible money-making ploy for unsuspecting readers. If you've already read Under the Dome, don't waste your money here; you'll just be re-reading the later half of the original book.
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on December 7, 2009
From the moment I heard the premise of Under the Dome, I couldn't wait to read it. Here it is in a nutshell: On a perfectly ordinary fall day, an invisible, impregnable barrier surrounds the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine. Nightmare ensues. And I do mean nightmare. Uncle Stevie isn't playing around. This isn't one of his tall tales filled with imaginary monsters and buckets of gore. The monsters here are human, and they are terrifying.

Okay, as an editor, when I see a 1,000+ page novel, my first thought is, "Does it really need to be this long?" Maybe not. I'm sure a few pages could have been trimmed. But I will tell you this... The deeper I got into this novel, the quicker I turned pages--right up until the end, when I was in a veritable page-turning frenzy. It reminded me, right from the start, of the fine work he did in the 70's, when as a child I devoured each new novel upon publication. King hasn't lost his touch with character, and he remains a consummate storyteller.

Under the Dome is epic. The time span is short, but the novel deals with the lives of more than 2,000 people trapped in a combustible hothouse. These are truly terrifying and incomprehensible circumstances. Things in Chester's Mill are bad, and hour by hour the situation got so much worse I didn't want to believe it. But I did. I believed it all. And THAT is Stephen King's genius.
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on March 30, 2014
My first clue should have been a pre-release that goes direct to paperback. My second clue should have been the absence of media fanfare. My third clue was definitely when I saw that the descriptive paragraph on the back cover could have benefited a little from one more trip to the proofreader. Still, I had to start reading the book for it to dawn on me what I had bought. Since I pre-ordered it, no reviews were yet posted. Yes, I checked. And there certainly was no clue in the product description. I know, I know, Buyer Beware, especially on the internet. If I had spent several minutes researching this, I would not now be the owner of a book that I can't even give away. ('cause every SK fan I know already read the whole thing a few years ago.) I have been with Amazon since the dial-up days, and really, they have always stood out for accurate, useful descriptions. Especially of books. How hard would it have been for a sentence explaining that this is the 2nd half of the original book? I think it would be lovely if Amazon offered each disappointed customer a few bucks off a preorder of the next release (this summer! yay!). But then, I think a lot of things.
If you have indeed only read the first half of Under the Dome, you are welcome to have my copy of "part 2".
**UPDATE** Amazon, Thank You!!! There is now a sentence explaining what this book is, and they made it clear and hard to miss! Gotta love a big company that responds to customer feedback!
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on April 8, 2014
This book is not a sequel. The original was broken up into two pieces. This is the second piece. I figured this out right after ordering. Tried to cancel the order but it came in anyway. Had it been more than the $6 I paid, I'd be a little more unhappy about it. As it stands, I will just use it a lesson to read the reviews more carefully. I rated the book based on the original story which was quite good.
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on March 25, 2014
I was so excited to receive this book. I read the original Under the Dome and know how it ended. I was hoping that this book would follow the tv show. Nope. All it is is the second part to the first book. I own the original hardcover which contains the full book. I have no use for this book. Instead of calling it part 2 maybe it should have been called the second half of the first book. Blah :( Not happy, not happy at all.
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on November 19, 2009
Me: Huge King fan. I have five bookshelves with nothing but King -- not just books BY King but books ABOUT his books. Hardcover firsts, special limited editions, graphic novels, and some books I bought only because King wrote the introduction. I've read him from the beginning and have been repaid with hundreds of hours of enjoyment. Anyone else remember the Castle Rock newsletter put out by his secretary?

I was enthralled with the first couple hundred pages of Under the Dome. Clear, concise language, vivid images, a well-paced story, and some characters who looked like they were going to be interesting. When the characters failed to develop and it became apparent that most of them were introduced just so we could watch them die in various ways, my interest flagged. Pretty soon I was reading just to get it all over with.

Now it's over. With the best books, you have the sense that the characters lived before you met them and that they will live on when you close the book. Stu Redman is still with me. So is Annie Wilkes. Jack Torrance. But the people of Chester's Mill never came alive -- they're just characters in a novel, thinly drawn pawns that King played with for awhile, moving them here and there without much thought or care.

Specific complaints -- unrealistic expository dialogue, an almost-cartoonish villain, too much foreshadowing that someone was going to die (sometimes King spoils his own books), and a few unbelievable and contrived spots where if you know anything at all about how things really work, you're taken right out of the story.

Maybe if I hadn't been looking forward to this book for so long, it wouldn't have been so disappointing. I hyped it up in my own mind. I'll never do that again.
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