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Under the Dome: A Novel Hardcover – November 10, 2009


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Preview "Under the Dome"
Read an excerpt, discover the characters from Stephen King's Under the Dome, and preview the final section of the book's dramatic cover [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1074 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439148503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439148501
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 2.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,413 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan Reviews Under the Dome

Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan share their enthusiasm for Stephen King's thriller, Under the Dome. This pair of reviewers knows a thing or two about the art of crafting a great thriller. Del Toro is the Oscar-nominated director of international blockbuster films, including Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy. Hogan is the author of several acclaimed novels, including The Standoff and Prince of Thieves, which won the International Association of Crime Writer's Dashiell Hammett Award in 2005. The two recently collaborated to write the bestselling horror novel, The Strain, the first of a proposed trilogy. Read their exclusive Amazon guest review of Under the Dome:

The first thing readers might find scary about Stephen King's Under The Dome is its length. The second is the elaborate town map and list of characters at the front of the book (including "Dogs of Note"), which sometimes portends, you know, heavy lifting. Don't you believe it. Breathless pacing and effortless characterization are the hallmarks of King's best books, and here the writing is immersive, the suspense unrelenting. The pages turn so fast that your hand--or Kindle-clicking thumb--will barely be able to keep up.

You Are Here.

Nobody yarns a “What if?” like Stephen King. Nobody. The implausibility of a dome sealing off an entire city--a motif seen before in pulp magazines and on comic book covers--is given the most elaborate real-life alibi by crafting details, observations, and insights that make us nod silently while we read. Promotional materials reference The Stand in comparison, but we liken Under The Dome more to King's excellent novella, The Mist: another locked-door situation on an epic scale, a tour-de-force in which external stressors bake off the civility of a small town full of dark secrets, exposing souls both very good...and very, very bad.

Yes, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," but there is so much more this time. The expansion of King’s diorama does not simply take a one-street fable and turn it into a town, but finds new life for old archetypes, making them morally complex and attuned to our world today. It makes them relevant and affecting once again. And the beauty of it all is that the final lesson, the great insight that is gained at the end of this draining journey, is not a righteous 1950’s sermon but an incredibly moving and simple truth. A nugget of wisdom you'll be using as soon as you turn the last page.

This Is Now.

Along the way, you get bravura writing, especially featuring the town kids, and a delicious death aria involving one of the most nefarious characters--who dies alone, but not really--as well as a few laugh-out-loud moments, and a cameo (of sorts) by none other than Jack Reacher. Indeed--whether during a much-needed comfort break, or a therapeutic hand-flexing--you may find yourself wondering, "Is this a horror novel? Or is it a thriller?" The answer, of course, is: Yes, yes, yes.

"...the blood hits the wall like it always hits the wall."

It seems impossible that, as he enters his sixth decade of publishing, the dean of dark fiction could add to his vast readership. But that is precisely what will happen...when the Dome drops.

Now Go Read It. --Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan


The Story Behind the Cover
Click on image to enlarge

The jacket concept for Under the Dome originated as an ambitious idea from the mind of Stephen King. The artwork is a combination of photographs, illustration and 3-D rendering. This is a departure from the direction of King's most recent illustrated covers.

In order to achieve the arresting image for this jacket, Scribner art director Rex Bonomelli had to seek out artists who could do a convincing job of creating a realistic portrayal of the town of Chester's Mill, the setting of the novel. Bonomelli found the perfect team of digital artists, based in South America and New York, whose cutting edge work had previously been devoted to advertisement campaigns. This was their first book jacket and an exciting venture for them. "They are used to working with the demands of corporate clients," says Bonomelli. "We gave them freedom and are thrilled with what they came up with."

The CGI (computer generated imagery) enhanced image looks more like something made for the big screen than for the page and is sure to make a lasting impact on King fans.

Meet the Characters

Dale Barbara
Barbie, a drifter, ex-army, walks with a burden of guilt from the time he spent in Iraq. Working as a short-order cook at Sweetbriar Rose is the closest thing he’s had to a family life. When his old commander, Colonel Cox, calls from outside, Barbie's burden becomes the town itself.

Julia Shumway
The attractive Editor and Publisher of the local town newspaper, The Chester's Mill Democrat, Julia is self-assured and Republican to the core, but she is drawn to Barbie and discovers, when it matters most, that her most vulnerable moment might be her most liberating.

Jim Rennie, Sr.
"Big Jim." A used car dealer with a fierce smile and no warmth, he'd given his heart to Jesus at age sixteen and had little left for his customers, his neighbors, or his dying wife and deteriorating son. The town's Second Selectman, he’s used to having things his way. He walks like a man who has spent his life kicking ass.

Joseph McClatchey
Scarecrow Joe, a 13-year-old also known as "King of the Geeks" and "Skeletor, a bona fide brain whose backpack bears the legend "fight the powers that be." He’s smarter than anyone, and proves it in a crisis.


Chester's Mill, Maine (click on image to enlarge)

From Publishers Weekly

King's return to supernatural horror is uncomfortably bulky, formidably complex and irresistibly compelling. When the smalltown of Chester's Mill, Maine, is surrounded by an invisible force field, the people inside must exert themselves to survive. The situation deteriorates rapidly due to the dome's ecological effects and the machinations of Big Jim Rennie, an obscenely sanctimonious local politician and drug lord who likes the idea of having an isolated populace to dominate. Opposing him are footloose Iraq veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara, newspaper editor Julia Shumway, a gaggle of teen skateboarders and others who want to solve the riddle of the dome. King handles the huge cast of characters masterfully but ruthlessly, forcing them to live (or not) with the consequences of hasty decisions. Readers will recognize themes and images from King's earlier fiction, and while this novel doesn't have the moral weight of, say, The Stand, nevertheless, it's a nonstop thrill ride as well as a disturbing, moving meditation on our capacity for good and evil. (Nov.)

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,188 of 1,274 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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668 of 727 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on November 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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387 of 429 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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645 of 770 people found the following review helpful By Pam Gearhart on November 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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