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Under the Dome: A Novel Paperback – July 6, 2010
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"Tight and energetic from start to finish... Hard as this thing is to hoist, it's even harder to put down." -- "New York Times"
""Under the Dome" moves so fast and grips the reader so tightly that it's practically incapacitating." -- "Newsday"
"Spellbinding." -- ABCnews.com
"Stephen King's "Under the Dome" was one of my favourite books of the year so far." -- Neil Gaiman
"King returns to his glory days of "The Stand"." -- "New York Daily News"
"The work of a master storyteller having a whole lot of fun." -- "Los Angeles Times"
"Propulsively intriguing... Staggeringly addictive." -- "USA Today"
""Dome" is classic King, sure to please any fan." -- "Baltimore Sun"
"A wildly entertaining trip." -- "People" (3.5 stars)
About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Sleeping Beauties (co-written with his son Owen King), End of Watch, the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Finders Keepers, Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and now an AT&T Audience Network original television series), Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63—a recent Hulu original television series event—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. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and 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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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.
Chester's Mill, Maine is a typical, small-town community where everyone knows each other. One day in October, an inexplicable barrier comes down and surrounds the entire town, cutting it off from the outside world. As the citizens try to understand the phenomenon and cope with the inconveniences caused by the Dome, a string of tragedies unfold and are exacerbated by the actions of some of the town's less-than-stellar residents. Meanwhile, there is a small minority who try to make right of the situations at hand, but theirs is an uphill battle for not only justice, but also for survival.
At the top of the list of the power hungry citizens is James "Big Jim" Rennie, owner of the local used car lot, the town's elected Second Selectman, and mastermind of a meth lab hidden within the town. He uses people's fears and insecurities against them in order to keep himself in power, to keep his criminal activities secret, and to obtain the glory he is so desperate to achieve when the Dome situation comes to the end - by his hand, he hopes. But his methods are dirty and underhanded. And he has nearly the entire town under his influence.
On the other end of the spectrum is Colonel (formerly Lieutenant) Dale "Barbie" Barbara, retired from the army, currently the cook in the town's local diner, and the liaison between those beneath the Dome and the outside world. Barbie is the biggest threat to Big Jim's power and influence because Barbie was not only tapped by the government to take over leadership in Chester's Mill but also because he is aware of Big Jim's shady activities. Barbie knows early on that he is in Big Jim's cross hairs.
There are dozens more characters in this story, all magnificently fleshed out. Their personalities, backgrounds, histories, worries, hopes, and struggles are described in great detail, crafting and adding a tangible element of realism to them and the story as a whole. The reader is drawn in to their many stories and perspectives, feeling emotionally attached to each and every one. The reader cheers for the protagonists' triumphs. Curses the successes of the antagonists. Feels sympathy for the tragedies that befall the heroes. Feels vindicated when the bad guys stumble with their own failures. Wants to rip his/her hair out because of all the stupid decisions made by the good guys, but takes great delight by the mistakes made by their enemies.
The town of Chester's Mill is described very well. (Having a map is a nice addition.) A lot of thought was put into the community and its environment. From all the small town shops to the small scale public service facilities (and sometimes, lack thereof) available. From the comfortable homes of the upper class to the rough and rugged conditions of the poorer residents. From the well funded and upkept church to the dilapidated and condemned landmark bridge. The diversity of the townsfolk; farmers, businessmen, religious figures, the community's youth population, out-of-towners, lifelong residents, the rich, the poor, addicts, service providers, and so on. All of this serves amazingly well to craft a living breathing town, to make the reader believe that this town exists, to make the reader able to relate to such a community.
I felt that Under the Dome was a very easy read. Despite all the descriptions, the reader is not hung up on just the environment or details. These specifics are spun and crafted with great care, making these details part of the story rather than an interruption from the events. Although there are a few places in the story where King takes a side step to describe a seemingly unrelated anecdote, those instances eventually come back around and tie into the story with great relevance and make the current situation in the story all the more poignant and tangible. Although the book is over 1000 pages, it is very fast paced from start to finish. It is difficult to put down; the reader compelled to find out what happens next.
Under the Dome is told from the multiple (third person) view points from both sides of the conflict. This gives the reader greater understanding of the events, helps to foretell tragedy as it unfolds, guides through unexpected twists and turns, and elicits greater fear for or anger towards the characters (depending on the character in question). When King switches from one POV to the next, it is not marked nor is there an exact pattern for when he switches (for instance, some authors will indicate a switch by titling their chapters with the name of the character whose POV is being followed). Despite this lack of pattern or demarcation, the reader is easily able to figure out when a POV switch is made and whose POV is being followed. The only downside is that the reader gets comfortable following one character after a while, gets really excited or drawn into that character's experiences, and then is suddenly cut off from that character to catch up with someone else. However, I wouldn't want to have had the story written in a different way, because there is so much going on at any given point that this was the only way this story could have been told.
The biggest, number one complaint I could issue with this story is how stupid and gullible so many of the characters were. This stupidity more often than not ended very poorly. These characters had a 'could never happen to me' attitude that just frustrated me more and more with each avoidable mistake. By the end of the book, I almost had no hope for some of the characters (for both their intelligence and their survival) especially when the outlook appeared bleaker and bleaker. I don't know if this pattern of foolishness was intentional or not in order to draw out the suspense, but that was the result.
I also felt that the ending of the story was rather abrupt. The actual issue of the Dome - how it got there, how to get rid of it - wasn't given much attention or thought. The story was more about the conflict between the town's two factions than it was about survival under the Dome or escape from it. The story spent a lot of time building up to a climax between Big Jim and Barbie, but then it drifted elsewhere. I kept expecting that karma would eventually catch up to Big Jim, and it eventually does, but when it finally does, it's far too little and far too late to be of any consequence. It was quite a let down.
Despite the few issues I had with the story, I still feel that this book is definitely one worth reading. It is well worth the money spent and will keep you occupied for many many hours. I highly recommend it.
Most recent customer reviews
Meaning length not boring. I thought it could have been shorter, but still a good read. A lot of characters.