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Under the Dome: A Novel Paperback – June 11, 2013
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Silent Corner" by Dean Koontz
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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
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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.) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The book, which is similar in the beginning, diverged significantly from the show and was so much better then the TV show ever was. I really enjoyed the book's understated Sci-Fi sensibilities which made it far more believable. The book's characters were much darker but far more realistic in their actions and relationships to each other.
Overall, if I were to do it over again, I would have read the book and skipped the TV show entirely. Perhaps someday it will be redone by someone who stays much truer to the original material.
One last note. One thing the TV did perfectly was casting Dean Norris as "Big Jim". Throughout my reading, it was impossible not see Dean in my imagining of the book's Jim Rennie.
Now, imagine you have a narcissistic leader of the town counsel who gets drunk with power and sees this as an opportunity for himself. People are dying - no one knows when this will end, the air quality declines, planes crash into the barrier from the outside; people commit suicide on the inside.
A leader is appointed by the military, who has taken active control of the situation - but only on the outside of the dome. Because "Big Jim", the leader of the town sets himself up as the hero and the outsiders as the enemy, the military/government is seen to have done this - it is a conspiracy in the eyes of the town.
There are a couple of ex-military on the inside, one of whom is contacted by cell phone. (Cell phones continue to work.) He's told to take control. The conflict between Big Jim and Colonel Barbie is intense. But, with Barbie the newcomer to the town and Big Jim seen as it's parading hero, it seems to be a losing battle. I won't go any further than this, but suffice it to say that the plot thickens and gets quite intense.
Reading it reminded me strongly of Animal Farm. The town is on an island and someone has to be in charge. What happens when the power goes to their heads? What happens to people who stand in their way (perceived or real)?
Don't be afraid of the bulk of the book. Topping in at about 1,100 pages it could seem overwhelming. But, King's style flows well and the book reads pretty quickly. This is a real page turner. If you are fond of Steven King's writing, this one will get you going. Enjoy.