Under the Dome
Posted: November 9, 2009
I have just finished King’s new book Under the Dome and what a monster of a book it is. I say monster in a good way though because the book clocks in at 1074 pages (US ed.) or 880 if you’re reading the UK edition and this might very well be King’s thickest book to date. The Stand or IT might be thicker but I’d be surprised if it was by much. However, even though it’s one of his three thickest books it’s an incredible easy read. The pages are flying by and before you know it you are way on your way to finishing the book.
When the story begins something is happening to the small town of Chester’s Mill. Some sort of invisible dome is setting over the town and sealing everyone in town in and everyone not in town out. And the unfortunate once that happens to be just on the line gets cut in half. Because the dome is invisible accidents happens. It’s everything from plains to cars to people crashing into it…with devastating results.
During the rest of the book we get a firsthand experience of what people are capable of doing in situations like this. Things they would never do under normal circumstances. The book has a very long character list that can only be compared to the one in The Stand but since this is one of King’s strengths it’s pure joy to get to know them all. King takes care of them very well and I never feel that the book has to many characters or that I had a hard time keeping them apart.
Some of them stand out a bit more than the rest though, even if I must admit that there are a lot of main characters in this one. And like in The Stand they are pretty early on divided into the good guys and the bad guys. The good are lead by Dale "Barbie" Barbara and the bad by Big Jim Rennie. Barbie is an ex military that’s working as a short-order cook and after the dome has appeared he gets selected by the President to take command in town while until the crisis is over. Leadership though is something that “Big Jim” Rennie isn’t going give up just like that. Rennie, a used car dealer, is also number two in command in town and he isn’t going to give that up just because the President says so...
The book contains two battles. One is for leadership of the town in which you have Barbie and his gang on one side and Rennie and the town police force on the other. The other battle is against the dome and here Barbie’s gang in on their own. Rennie has no hurry to lift the dome. He likes being in command but the dome has also given him a unique chance of cleaning up the dirty businesses he’s been running in town. And he intends to do that before the dome lifts…if it ever lifts that is.
As I said earlier one of King’s strengths is character developments and here he has a lot to work with. And as expected he does a very good job. All the characters feel very true and believable. There are too many of them to name them all here but besides Barbie and Rennie I have to single out Junior, Rennie’s son that’s almost as bad as his old man. On Barbie’s side we find Julia who runs the local newspaper, Rusty the local doctor and Cox the military leader on the outside of the dome.
They are all very believable and in fact most of the book is quite believable. There is a short segment at the end that feels a bit confusing and since it has quite the impact on the books ending it’s an important part of the book that I personally would have seen done differently. I can’t get in to it much more then that without spoiling the ending of the book for you (and I won’t do that) but you’ll notice it yourself when you read it. I felt that the flow of the reading got a bit bumpy during that part…
But, even so, Under the Dome is a very good book and I like the fact that the reason for the dome isn’t revealed until the very end. Under the Dome is definitely one of King’s strongest and my feeling is that it’ll be right up there with The Stand and IT when you think of King’s best books.
Lilja's final words about Under the Dome
I really like Under the Dome and I was happy to notice that it was such an easy read despite its thickness. In Under the Dome you get King at his best. You get his wonderful characters, you get his wonderful storytelling and you get it for well over 1000 pages. Can it get any better? I don’t think so!