August 9, 2013
Under the Dome
Under the Dome by Stephen King
2009 Scribner eBook
Finished on 7/9/13
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.
Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a selectwoman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.
I’ve read quite a few books by Stephen King, but I’m not a diehard fan who anxiously awaits his new releases. I’ve never read the Dark Tower series, and I’ve let a lot of his early works go unread. However, I’ve enjoyed quite a few from his extensive backlist (a list of my favorites can be found here), but it’s been six years since I visited King’s scary world. And, as I re-read my review for Dreamcatcher, I noticed that it had been many, many years since I’d read anything by King. I suspect the length of his more recent works has something to do with this. When Under the Dome was released, I gave it a cursory glance, but was put off by the sheer enormity of the novel. But I’ve recently read a few chunksters (The Passage and The Twelve), so when a few blogmates suggested a read-along, I decided it was time to give it a try. I chose to read the book on my husband’s Simple Touch, which turned out to be a blessing and a curse. I doubt I would have hauled that tome (1088 pages in the paperback edition) around with me on vacation, but I was frustrated with King’s large cast of characters and trying to sort out their relationships was more difficult with the eBook. I’m used to being able to flip back and forth in a book and it took me longer than normal to get a sense of who was important and who was a throw-away character. I also kept glancing down at the page number (a total of 1349 in the eBook), feeling anxious that it was going to take me forever to finish the book. Well, it wasn’t forever, but it did wind up taking me 6 weeks! The first half was a challenge, but once I hit the halfway mark, I was fully engrossed and couldn’t put it down. With that said, though, I also couldn’t wait to start reading something new!
Overall, I enjoyed the storyline, and was somewhat relieved that it wasn’t a typical horror story. I could read the book at night, walk my dog without getting freaked out by the storm drains, and look through a photo album without worrying about the people coming to life. I also liked the frequent nods to other books (Alas, Babylon; On the Beach; and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series) and writers in general. Fun stuff! I didn’t spend too much time trying to figure out the cause of the Dome and was a bit let down with the final explanation, but not so much that it ruined the experience of reading such a long book.
A big thanks to Natalie from Coffee and a Book Chick for hosting the DomeAlong. Also, a huge thank you to Trish and SuziQ for keeping me motivated via Twitter. Without their encouragement, I may have quit long before I got hooked. While I enjoyed reading Under the Dome, I’ve decided to skip the TV series. I’ve heard it’s based very loosely on the novel and I have a feeling I’d wind up disappointed. Maybe after a year or so, when the story isn’t as fresh, I can give it a try.