1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Stand on a smaller scale,
This review is from: Under the Dome: A Novel (Hardcover)
I have been a long-time Stephen King fan and have read all of his novels. I admit, however, that when UNDER THE DOME was released last fall, I wasn't in any particular hurry to read it; the premise of the book just didn't interest me all that much. I tend to prefer King's works that are more character-driven (DEAD ZONE, THE GUNSLINGER SERIES, the more recent DUMA KEY) to his more epic, disaster-themed novels (such as CELL or even his much-beloved THE STAND). But, being the King fan that I am, I knew that I would get to his latest book eventually.
I'm sure most are familiar with the novel's basic premise by now, so I'll just recap briefly here: the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is suddenly and inexplicably covered by an invisible, impenetrable barrier that comes to be known as simply "the Dome." The United States government denies any responsibility for what has occurred, and the military's best efforts seem to be useless to help rescue the townspeople trapped beneath the Dome. Meanwhile, formerly pleasant, small-town life in Chester's Mill quickly begins to disintegrate. Helped along by "Big Jim" Rennie, a town selectman with delusions of grandeur, those who were friendly neighbors just a few days before become frightened, frenzied foes faster than you can say "Give us Barabbas!" It is this mob-like mentality which leads to the arrest of Dale Barbara (a.k.a. "Barbie"), a retired Army Captain who has been called back into service by the President and commissioned with the near-impossible task of finding a cause for the Dome from the inside.
It was both the "us versus them" mindset and the breakdown of modern society that I found to be reminiscent of King's earlier novel, THE STAND. Yet UNDER THE DOME still feels like a unique premise, and overall, I found it to be an engaging and enjoyable read. I did have a few issues with the book, however. First, at 1072 pages, it definitely felt too long to me. The beginning of the book was strong, and the last several hundred pages moved along at a quick, entertaining pace, but shaving about 200 pages off the middle of this novel would have made it a much tighter, more satisfying read. Unfortunately, the length wasn't the only editing problem: I was surprised to find several outright errors in the book. I'm not talking about typos; I'm referring to mistakes that should have been picked up by the editor, the author, or both. (For readers who are curious, here are a couple of quick examples: 1) Character Sammy Bushey mentions being teased about her last name, Bushey, as a child, which would be impossible because Bushey is her MARRIED name, and 2) Sammy's estranged husband, Phil, refers to her as "Sandy" later in the book.) These are NOT things I would expect to find in a novel issued by a major publishing house and by one of my favorite authors.
In the end, I am glad that I read this book, and I would recommend it--with minor caveats--to King fans and others.